CLIENT BLOG: The Two Sides of the Distribution Line

This article was written by a former client and current writer and organizer for YYC STRONG. Follow her Blog and Instagram to learn more about this vibrant city and the issues and organizations that affect it.

teaser-emergency-hamperThe Calgary Food Bank is an outstanding organization, available to families and individuals in need. As someone who has been on both sides of their distribution line, I can say without a doubt that what they do does in fact work and it helps hundreds of people each day within our community.

When I was on the recipient side, over 10 years ago, the diversity of people there really stood out for me. However, the truth is that you can be doing all the right things and yet still need a little bit of support, and there is nothing wrong in that.

The food bank is a poverty prevention program that helps people get back on their feet before getting enrolled into the welfare system. I had the privileges to speak with D.D. Coutts, Manager of Communications & Development and discuss the accomplishments and struggles of food bank:

If all it takes is a little bit of food for a family or individual from spiraling into further poverty, or just a little bit of help till their next pay check, why wouldn’t you want to do that?
–D.D. Coutts.

Who knew that people from the oil patch that were buying and selling two years ago would be using the food bank today? It shows that life is a gamble and there is nothing to prepare us for the unforeseen future. At the food bank you can see a lawyer waiting in line next to a mom of 5 or a single parent. People who are simply trying to get a better life for their kids and themselves but need a little push.

There is a certain perception that people are abusing the system and the food bank simply hands out hampers to anyone who comes to their doors. However they have a well built screening process that ensures help is delivered to those truly in need. There are a series of questions and documents required to qualify for a hamper. The Calgary Food Bank is 100% community owned and does not receive any government funding, and therefore they must ensure that their operation is efficient and fair.

We have to be out there in the community to remind people to give. It takes a lot to run an organization this size, because we also supply to other food banks as well as 130 charities such as the Mustard Seed. Once you get into a program like that, people need to eat. So instead of making them compete for food, we supply them.
– D.D. Coutts

“This isn’t a place that simply provides a food hamper”


Food industry saves money from disposing quality food from damaged pallets by donating to the food bank.

Calgary Food Bank is a place to help and care for one another. It involves a variety of skills in order to provide the needed help, therefore 100 to 150 volunteers at there every day donating their time for others! Large corporations also volunteer their time and use the food bank as a team building platform at the same time.

While team building is important for every company, it holds special significance for individuals recovering from additions. Therefore Calgary Food Bank also collaborates with an organization that provides assistance with addiction treatment and helps them encourage accountability and reliability during team work.

Non-traditional items you didn’t know you could donate to the food bank

The mission of the food bank is to supply food, however they do provide hygiene products, baby diapers and other items that people in need would not be able to afford. Items such as toys, pet food or baby diapers are not bought by the food bank, therefore they rely 100% on donations. However if you donate cash or cheque with a request that the amount is to be spent on something specific, then the food bank respects the donors wish and purchases them.

The food bank maintains high standards in quality and only supplies food approved by the Canadian Food Guide. Therefore if you donate food that is past its expiration date or has been opened, they will not be able to use it.

Before you decide to donate something or throw it away, please visit the Canadian Food Inspection website. They have further information on the difference between “best before”, expiration dates and lots more that could help you make the right decision.

What does the food bank do with all the food that is not being used?

“We are talking to a company that is specializing in depackaging. They will open all the cans, recycle the tins and put all the food into compost. We compost everything we can in-house such as bread and eggs but we do need assistance with cans.”

Even thought Christmas is over, let’s not forget the importance of organizations like the Calgary Food Bank and continue to support in their mission. When you are on your feet and doing well, help somebody else! 

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What is your experience at the Food Bank?

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