Annual report | Blog
FEED, LEAD, CONNECT
The Calgary Food Bank’s three strategic priorities – FEED, LEAD, CONNECT keeps focus on meeting Calgarians food needs now, connecting people with community supports beyond food and leading initiatives to address the root causes of hunger. The Calgary Food Bank’s vision is a hunger free community, and we know that this is something that one organization, service, or solution cannot solve alone. Which is why our mission emphasizes the together of together, we fight hunger and its root causes because no one should go hungry.
One year ago, a new department was created at the Calgary Food Bank. The original Community Liaison Team consisted of two Calgary Food Bank employees with front-line experience working with clients. Laura Harrison and Michelle Vetland have spent the last 12 months reaching into the far corners of our community, identifying gaps, understanding the need and creating partnerships with organizations that are actively working to support people with their underlying cause of food insecurity. Finding affordable housing, securing jobs that pay the bills, filing taxes, and accessing mental health support are just some of our partner’s services.
They also help guide people accessing the food bank via a relaunched, referral service*. A much deeper understanding of the landscape of support available, coupled with a broader knowledge about the challenges people face when navigating access to emergency food has led to crucial cross-sector collaborations. A joint effort with the Calgary Homeless Foundation and the Calgary Drop-In Centre to improve the coordination of support for outreach groups and an important connection with the Ukranian community which is straining to meet the needs of thousands of refugees fleeing Ukraine amid war which started in February 2022 are just a few examples of the work underway.
Arguably the most important work they do is meeting with community partners, mostly charities that are improving the lives of citizens by offering a wide range of support services. The Community Liaison Team meets one-to-one to learn what the organizations do and see how the Calgary Food Bank can help. They match organizations with the best Calgary Food Bank program to suit their needs and the needs of the people they work with. Led by a belief that to create change we must collaborate and integrate our knowledge and services, the community liaison team also explores opportunities for shared research, data sharing and to support advocacy work.
“These connections allow organizations to use food to connect with people, creating an opportunity to make a positive impact on their lives,” says Calgary Food Bank Community Liaison Supervisor Laura Harrison. “We know that the problem of food insecurity will not be adequately addressed until underlying causes are targeted, and we’re so grateful that together with our partners, we can contribute to meaningful change”.
*The Calgary Food Bank does not offer verified referrals, but rather guidance to other organizations that can offer support.