A bite of information | Blog
Your donations are making an impact, we are the stewards
On the heels of Black Friday is Giving Tuesday, a day of charitable giving. But with so many charitable organizations out there, how can you support us with confidence this giving season?
The Calgary Food Bank was recently named as one of Charity Intelligence’s Top 10 Canadian Impact Charities of 2019. It is truly humbling to be recognized in this way from one of the country’s most respected organizations that rates and reviews Canadian charities. Charity Intelligence Canada challenges the charitable sector to be more transparent, accountable, and focused on results. This scrutiny informs donors and provides them with the tools they need in supporting charities that have proven impacts. We are proud to provide one of the best returns per dollar donated.
Charity Intelligence has high expectations of excellence so rating our program impact can be rigorous.
But since we are always focused on the impact our programs have in the community and have performance measurement strategies in place to ensure we adapt and focus our efforts, answering the hard questions is not daunting.
One such area for evaluation is the Emergency Food Hamper Program, the core of what we do every day. Last year, we distributed 69,249 hampers. A critical part of the program is to help clients build connections and address the root cause of their food insecurity by connecting them to other supports. By taking a leadership role in connecting people and services, we don’t hand off responsibility to others we continue to support both the people and the agencies with food resources in their journey to recovery.
Our collective impact improves outcomes. Last year, we made 24,525 referrals to 429 community agencies and their affiliated programs. We have found that the sooner we connect people to services that address the root cause of their crisis, the sooner the healing and recovery can begin.
Whenever a gap in service or support is identified we work diligently to find solutions. Over the years we have worked to create satellite locations so that accessing emergency food is easier and closer to home. We found ways to remove an average of 19 kilometres from a client’s trip which also saves a significant amount of time that can be put to better use with their family and other needs. Based on feedback we now have a better set of criteria that is used in determining what is needed for a satellite location to maintain a level of service and quality to our clients. There are currently 18 satellite locations across the Calgary.
Through feedback from our agency partners involved in our Hampers for the Homeless Program, we learned that some partners needed a different assortment of the component foods to better meet client’s needs. Based on these learnings a new stream of distribution was created, allowing agencies to pick up items in bulk based on their needs. This change saves time for volunteers and the agency staff, improving the connections with their clients using food. We had a 34% increase in the food accessed through this program this year, and direct reports of better relationships and impacts in the community.
When our proven partners aren’t focusing on food, they can focus their time and resources on their programing. We are always looking for ways to work with the experts in our community. After seeing an article about peace officers using their own money to purchase food to connect with people experiencing homelessness, our team reached out to them about the Hampers for the Homeless Program and a partnership was born. The City of Calgary Partner Agency Liaison (PAL) team is being provided 30 hampers a month, this will help them connect with more vulnerable people in our city.
These are only three examples of how food insecurity isn’t just a case of not enough food, but also getting the food to the places where people need it. Calgary has been a delivery hub for the food industry supply chain, and we have worked to be a solid link in that chain. One of our priorities is to develop new partnerships in a competitive food redistribution market. 83 percent of food donations come from our 362 food industry partners. We rescue more than 9.6 million pounds of food annually, redirecting it to support the community. Beyond our city, we also use our organizational capacity to annually share more than two million pounds of food across Alberta and Canada. By collaborating we ensure that emergency food and supplies are reaching more food insecure Canadians while reducing food waste.
We are community owned and supported so we take the stewarding of ALL donations, very seriously. Every day we strive to be compassionate and walk the talk, demonstrating our impact to the collective well-being of our community. The result of our efforts is a stronger and more resilient community, where people are connected and not hungry. When we were named as one of Charity Intelligence’s Top 10 Canadian Impact Charities of 2019 we were honoured and inspired to continue to engage and empower the community to address the root causes of food insecurity.