A bite of information | Blog
A Glance Back
As summer winds down and we prepare for a busy fall and winter, we want to reflect on our past and celebrate some incredible organizations that feed hungry people in the community throughout the year.
The thing is that all major religions have the Golden Rule in Common. ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ Not always the same words but the same meaning.
– Norman Rockwell
The Calgary Food Bank was built on a foundation of faith, not as an expression of religion but on the sense of community. Even more true today, when the collective desire to help others continues as the need for food support touches more lives.
In 1982 the Calgary Interfaith Food Bank was born as a collaborative effort between multiple faiths to temporarily relieve hunger in our city. Different religious leaders in the community were already collecting food and giving it to those in need, so they decided to join forces to make the most impact in the community. Over the years, The Calgary Food Bank grew from a small not-for-profit in a church basement run by four volunteers into an incredibly well-organized operation with 97 employees, thousands of volunteers and has provided over 945,000 hampers spanning over 2.4 million visits by Calgarians! We utilize well over 60,000 square feet of space for food sorting and distribution.
About 10 years ago, the Calgary Interfaith Food Bank began to be referred to as The Calgary Food Bank. While we did not formally remove the word interfaith, by not using it in regular communications, we emphasize that we are a community-built, funded, and utilized service that exists for anyone who needs food support.
Over the years and through to today, the contributions of faith communities in our city have been critical in helping those experiencing food insecurity. The number and variety of faiths that have donated food, funds and time over the years are awe-inspiring; Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim communities and many Christian denominations including United, Anglican, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Orthodox Catholic, Baptist, and Evangelical. The list is rounded out by dozens of culturally based faith groups and people who gather simply as a community.
The initiatives vary and take place throughout the year. Iglesia Ni Cristo Church receives an overwhelming response from their own fellowship. In 2018 they raised 5,130 pounds of food; in 2019 they raised 9,110 pounds; and in 2020 they raised an incredible 47,405 pounds of food. The Sikh Youth Walk Away Hunger 2019 Food Drive raised more than 15,000 pounds which is about twice the weight of an elephant! Many faith groups host third party fundraisers and annual appeals such as the Knox United Church who has a yearly Carol Festival that raises a considerable amount of food and funds each year.
Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.
– Mohamed Ali
The Ismaili Muslim Community in Calgary organizes an impressive food drive during Ramadan that has been a tradition for over 15 years. Over the last two years, their efforts provided more than $12,000 in funds and 11,000 pounds of food. Alisha Visanji, a volunteer with the community says, “We chose to partner with the Calgary Food Bank because access to food is such a basic human need and many clients of the food bank are families and individuals who are often put in a difficult position to choose between putting food on the table or a roof over their heads.” Visanji adds, in the Shia Ismaili Muslim tradition, voluntary service is viewed as an integral and necessary part of daily life, and a means for each individual to actualize Islam’s ethics of inclusiveness and compassion.”
For over 24 years, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has coordinated a massive city-wide door-to-door food drive. Volunteer and Coordinator for the food drive, Don Rae, explains why they step up each year; “A fundamental tenet of our faith is to love and serve others, and particularly those less fortunate than us. Our Church’s decades-long commitment to the City-Wide Food Drive is an extension of that belief. Our members, across the city, have embraced the event, and it now forms an important part of the fabric of our faith community.” While Rae says they do not do the food drive to break size and volume records, they have indeed accomplished that in the past. In 2008, the Calgary food drive set a Guinness World Record for collecting 509,000 pounds of food in one day.
We are inspired by the faith communities in our city and their dedication to improving the lives of others. There is a quote we like to remember when contemplating how we began and how far we have come: “Like branches on a tree we grow in different directions, but our roots remain as one.”
The 2022 City-Wide Food Drive annual food drive takes place on Saturday, September 17th. Leave your compostable bag before 10 a.m. filled with non-perishables like canned tomatoes and brown rice on your front porch or driveway for the volunteers to collect. Alternatively, go online to donate as we can turn each dollar donated into five dollars’ worth of food.