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Holiday Season at the Calgary Food Bank
Safely welcoming clients, donors and volunteers during our busiest season
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how the Calgary Food Bank delivers services, fundraises, accepts donations, manages volunteers, schedules staff, and more. What hasn’t changed is our commitment to safely ensuring that no one goes hungry.
This holiday season closes out a year where Calgary has been hit hard by the pandemic and Alberta’s continued economic downturn. Even though things look different this year, we’re still here, open, and ready for clients, volunteers, and donors.
Yes, we’re open!
The winter months are our busiest time, and this year is no exception. We’ve already been preparing for the rush of clients that we receive during and beyond the holidays.
Calgarians are incredibly generous year-round, but they step up even more during the holiday season to help their neighbours in need. Our doors are open and we’re thrilled to be able to accept donations of food and funds. We have different hours for food and monetary donations, but our safety precautions remain the same throughout the building: masks are mandatory, and we ask that donors do their best to maintain six feet of distance between themselves and others.
As with everything this year, our holiday campaigns look a bit different. Our Stuff A Bus event was revised in response to updated gathering limits in Alberta, but Calgarians still supported us with donations to those in need. Both the Mayor’s Annual Christmas Food Drive and CBC Calgary Food Bank Drive are going online. Our staff, volunteers, community partners, and supporters are getting creative and finding ways to safely support our operations, both for the holidays and for the long run.
Since the initial spread of COVID-19 cases in Alberta in March, the Calgary Food Bank has been continually looking for opportunities to minimize risk of spreading illness for our clients, staff, volunteers, and donors. We’ve always been a leader in health and safety, which continues to be the primary focus in all we do.
In the spring, we introduced a drive-thru model for hamper distribution to minimize contact. We’ve continued this model, which has received great feedback from our clients. Hamper pickup is by appointment only, scheduled in 15-minute increments to reduce traffic and minimize crowding. Constantly observing and evaluating our processes will improve the client experience while keeping everyone in our Food Bank community safe and healthy.
We’re improving access
Difficult as this year has been, it has allowed us to see opportunities to refine our programs and processes, making it easier for people to access our services.
Before COVID-19, clients would present their ID when they arrived to pick up their hamper. This is still an option, but we’ve introduced the option for clients to validate their ID online. Once a client validates their ID, they receive a QR code that we scan at hamper pickup. This further reduces contact during hamper pickup and makes it possible for a third party – be it a family member, friend, or volunteer pickup service – to pick up a hamper if a client can’t. We also continue to offer satellite location options to make hampers more locally accessible.
Client feedback has always been vital to our programs. In the last few months, we heard from clients who needed food more frequently. In response, we’ve adjusted our hamper eligibility; clients now only need to wait 10 full days between hampers.
Our sincere thanks
Calgarians have come together in amazing ways this year and we’re proud to be part of this community. Thanks to your support, we’ve been able to serve our most vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic and we’re prepared to extend that support into and beyond the holiday season.