Fall 2022 Comfort Food
COMFORT FOOD | Newsletter
MEANT TO BE
The Inspiring Story of One Food Bank Worker
For 12 years, Sheldon Scalplock has worked as a parking lot attendant at the Calgary Food Bank, meeting and greeting clients. He loves it, “Just seeing the smiles on people’s faces, knowing you’re making a difference, it’s good work.” He’s from Siksika Nation, born into a family of strong men that worked to serve others. His grandfather, Tony, was a scout for the Northwest Mounted Police, and his father, Alexander, worked at the Glenbow Museum on the third floor with the First Nations displays. Alexander loved sharing his knowledge and understanding of his culture with the public and remained there until he died in 1988.
Sheldon remembers that his dad was incredibly proud of his job at the Glenbow but shared very few details of his experience in residential schools. That experience, however, denied Alexander the love of his family and especially parents. He had a tough childhood at the hands of the church and as a result, when he had children of his own, he moved away from the reserve so the kids would not be placed in residential schools. His gentle nature, quiet strength and sense of humour are all traits that Sheldon inherited from his dad. Despite knowing how difficult his dad’s life was, Sheldon displays no bitterness or resentment; it doesn’t appear in his tone of voice, expression or words. Instead, you hear a gentle, wise voice of a man who lights up when he speaks of his passion, Dance!
As a champion powwow dancer, he celebrates First Nations culture with others who gather to dance, sing and honour the traditions of their ancestors. Sheldon won his first first-place trophy at the Calgary Stampede in 1971. Fifty-one years later, at the 2022 Calgary Stampede, he again placed first with his son, Sheldon Junior. Sheldon has won countless awards over the decades attending powwows across this land and south of the border. While he still competes regularly, his latest’ gig’ was as arena director at this year’s massive powwow held to mark and honour the 2nd annual day for Truth and Reconciliation at the Saddledome. There’s no doubt that the decades spent competing at these traditional gatherings helped shape his joyful, friendly nature.
Between the powwows and enjoying all the shenanigans of any typical kid, Sheldon finished school at Plains Indian Cultural Survival School. He started a family at a young age. Often, times were tough and making ends meet was a challenge. Still, with the support of family and organizations like the Calgary Food Bank, which he needed to lean on during the early years, Sheldon has enjoyed a good life. He proudly talks about his six children and two stepchildren. He lights up when he speaks of their successes and their importance to him. Sadly, Sheldon lost one of his daughters a couple of years ago. She was only 26 years old; a series of unfortunate choices turned her down a dark path that led to her death. Sheldon generously shares her story and memories of her because he says it’s part of his healing. Brittany was ‘Daddy’s little girl’, and he says he misses her every single day. Speaking of their relationship brings a smile to his face; his calm, reserved nature makes you feel incredibly comfortable and content in his presence.
As the warm autumn sun shines on the Calgary Food Bank parking lot, Sheldon casually waves clients through and points them to assigned spots, smiling, waving. When asked if he’d resign if he won the lottery, he doesn’t hesitate for even a moment, “No!”. It’s as though his work at the food bank is more of a calling than a job. Like his father, who shared his culture with visitors to the museum, Sheldon shares compassion, empathy and understanding with fellow Calgarians who need help.
When asked how Sheldon manages conversations with clients who arrive feeling upset, embarrassed or even ashamed, he says he’s quick to reassure them that we are here to help. I also tell them, “You know it’s ok to ask for help; I had to come to the food bank a few times when money was tight,” This immediately disarms them and puts them at ease. Sheldon says, “People on the powwow trail, or even here, think that I’ve got it all, but I remind them that it has been a long journey to get to this place I’m at, and everything that happens is meant to be.”
RENOVATE AND INNOVATE
How Expansion and Reorganization Will Help Feed The Need
To meet the growing need for access to food, the Calgary Food Bank has been undergoing major renovations to help improve the space we have and make it more efficient to sort and distribute food. The need for more space was identified before COVID-19 hit, but the pandemic heightened the urgency and so we forged ahead. The newly appointed Director (formerly manager), Logistics and Inventory, Mike Pasma has led the charge and is ensuring the space is ready for the challenges ahead:
Season of Giving
The season of giving is approaching and for many of our friends and neighbours, this time of year can be especially difficult as they struggle to make their way out of the economic and pandemic fallout. It is going to take a while for people to recover but we are so lucky to live in a place where people give how and when they can.
There is a myriad of ways to make a difference this year. The gift of time means that hundreds of families and individuals that reach out to us daily can receive the food support they need. The gift of food helps ensure the emergency food hampers are full of quality items for a whole week, for every member of the household. And the gift of funds means we can keep the trucks on the road and can purchase nutritious content like dairy and meat.
No matter how you choose to give, your impact is enormous. Your generosity helps envision a future where no one goes hungry. Thank you!
Did You Know
Pictured from left to right: Dave King, Oslem Arslan, Rob Stobbe, Crystal Milne, MJ Henderson MIssing: Winnie Everts, Geethu George, Christna Kleysen, Tanya Johnson, Timothy Maslen, Amy Fawkes, Todd Grech, Lynn Tipper, Usman Bajwa and Robert McDonald
At least 15 of our staff people started here as volunteers!
“I always looked forward to my volunteer shifts and meeting so many great people. Now I look forward to coming to work and still meeting great people. As an employee I have learned there is so much more to how the Calgary Food Bank serves the community than when I was volunteering. “ Winnie Everts Community Engagement Coordinator
“Volunteers at the Calgary Food Bank are highly valued and work alongside employees. This familiarity made the transition from volunteer to employee very easy for me.” Dave King Accounts Receivable Associate
“It has been a rewarding adventure to move from a volunteer role to a staff position at the Calgary Food Bank. I am grateful to work somewhere that helps people each day and after 2 years, I am still continuing to learn new things about the organization!” Tanya Johnson Volunteer Resource Associate
Supported by the Children’s Cottage Family Resource Network and in Partnership with Mosaic Primary Care Network, Mikala Wilson and Mikaela Gulliver, Dieticians share easy ideas on how to use food from one of our Emergency Food Hampers.
You Might Also Like
We sort donations big and small, and separate them into different recycling and reclamation areas, with a goal of less than 10% going to the landfill.
The air is crisp, and the leaves are beginning to fall. We have slipped into Autumn, and this time of year always brings a harvest of home-grown goodness.
Once again, the long hot days of summer begin to slowly disappear into shorter, cooler days, and we look forward to the annual City-Wide Food Drive coordinated by the Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints community.