Satellite Location Spotlight
In addition to our main warehouse, the Calgary Food Bank has 15 Satellite Locations throughout the city from which folks can pick up their food hampers. These locations are situated within different community spaces, such as churches, recreation centres, and resource centres. We are strategic in where Satellite Locations are set up and look at several factors, such as:
- Rates of food insecurity in the area
- Accessibility of the building
- Proximity to transit and other social services
- Day and time for delivery and distribution
Food access that is run by the community, for the community, creates a sense of connectedness and reduces the stigma that comes along with accessing emergency food support. It is through the kind hearts of community members that the Calgary Food Bank can expand our reach for hamper distribution through Satellite Locations. Our location in Lincoln Park, is run by two lovely volunteers, Karen and Ward, who we spoke with about their experience with running a Satellite Location.
Lincoln Park is located in Ward 8, where the average income of people accessing the Calgary Food Bank is $1268/month.
Insufficient government benefits, such as AISH and pensions are cited as the most common reason for accessing the Calgary Food Bank.
Walk us through a day in the life as a satellite
By establishing satellite locations in communities, we can create
space for people to access food somewhere familiar, where they can connect with community members and services nearby.
The day prior to distribution at a Satellite Location, hampers are built at the Calgary Food Bank’s main warehouse in bulk. This means that enough food for all hampers booked is put into crates and boxes and organized based on type (ie., Dairy, produce, condiments and snacks, and so on). The way that the food is organized and boxed when it arrives at Lincoln Park makes it so much easier for us to organize and build the hampers. We recognize that we are merely the last step in a detailed, and incredible process at the main warehouse that makes our job possible.
At Lincoln Park, we distribute hampers on Wednesdays, so we receive these assorted boxes of food products from the Calgary Food Bank on Wednesday mornings.
With the help of the truck driver, we unload the truck into the Satellite, which at Lincoln Park is actually a condo! The Satellite Location takes place within a housing complex, which again makes it easier for people experiencing food insecurity to access food somewhere they’re familiar with. From there, we bag the bread into individual packages, and sort the specialty items (think pet food, diapers, hygiene items). We unload the boxes onto tables to make sure we have the correct number of hampers, and they are the correct size (according to color). Once the tables have the correct amount of food for each hamper, we box the hampers again, so they are ready for the clients to pick up.
When the clients come, we check their ID’s / hamper numbers, and load the hampers into their car. Many times, the clients pack the hamper food into backpacks to either walk home, take a cab or the bus. Any food that is not picked up or taken is brought to a nearby church, which distributes the items to members of the community.
What made Lincoln Park want to be a Satellite Location?
Karen used to volunteer at the main warehouse, but then became the original lead at the Lincoln Park location. She liked the idea of running the Lincoln Park location because of the meaningful and direct interaction with the clients.
If an organization is interested in becoming a Satellite Location, what advice would you give?
An effective location is about how the clients are treated. We never ask questions of our clients, never judge them, and treat each client with maximum respect and dignity. Sometimes, the clients will want to share thoughts, concerns and ask questions, which we are always open to. We maintain a positive attitude suggesting that things will get better.
Do you have a favourite memory you would like to share?
It is difficult to pick one memory from a host of positive experiences, but our favorite part of this volunteer job is providing plentiful food to the clients and receiving their sincere thanks and appreciation. It’s nice to know we are making it possible for the clients to have one less stress in their lives.
Emergency food hampers work to reduce
the stress of knowing where one’s next
meal will come from.
How do you spend your time outside of running the satellite?
Outside of our volunteer work, we enjoy retirement, gardening, golf, camping, and spending time with our families.
From March – May, 2022, we sent 4,432 food hampers to our 15 Satellite Locations throughout the city to be distributed. At Lincoln Park specifically, 234 individuals received food from these Emergency Food Hampers. Having hamper pickup options located in one’s neighborhood saves on both fuel cost and travel time. In fact, throughout our 2020-2021 fiscal year, Satellite Locations are estimated to have saved $33,848 in fuel costs and 4,732 hours in travel time.
We are incredibly grateful for the time donated by Karen and Ward, and for all the hard work and support that our other Satellite Locations offer both of us at the Calgary Food Bank, and for people experiencing food insecurity. We know that no individual or organization can solve food insecurity on their own. It is with the help of community members and organizations that we can get food out to folks who need it and fight the root causes of hunger.