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How Do We Work Towards A Hunger Free Community?
The Calgary Food Bank is critical to the city’s emergency food assistance system, impacting thousands of lives every week. As the demand for food and support continues to surge, we know this is not sustainable. With the increased cost of living and inflation not seen in 40 years, our social safety nets are fraying. Using client feedback and data, we continue to take the necessary steps to help the community.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were able to act quickly to implement changes because we were already actively engaged with our clients and partners. We continued to use real-time client feedback from over 200,000 users to chart our course. For example, 80% of clients surveyed said our changes improved their lives through a positive food bank experience. And a pandemic change that was driven by the community resulted in even easier access to food and reduced wait times between hampers.
100% of clients felt that the distribution process and COVID-19 precautions did not create additional challenges to accessing the Food Bank. Additionally, 505 people at the main location voluntarily shared that the drive-thru system was an improvement to hamper pickup. One client said,
“I like the system the way it is now. You just pull up, and they come out with the cart and fill up your car, and you go. It is less contact with other people for one.”
The actions of the Calgary Food Bank were a direct result of client and agency needs. The impact of more people receiving the food they suddenly needed validated and reinforced our connection with the community and its changing needs.
The information our clients trust us with helps communicate the facts and dispel myths. Those not accessing food banks understand that we are here for them when needed. We remove the barrier of fear and the stigma of needing help so that Calgarians in crisis will reach out without the stress and worry about putting food on the table. Once the food is safely provided, we continue to help by connecting to other supports that can help address the root causes of their food insecurity.
There is no simple answer to the complexity of crisis people experience and we know that food insecurity is not an isolated condition. It happens because of many other, often complicated issues and situations such as unexpected job loss, medical bills, mental health concerns, relationship challenges and so much more. We know this because of the lived experience hundreds of thousands of people have shared with us, each time helping us improve our services and our impact. Our shared understanding of community means we can feed people today and work to provide support that will lead to a better quality of life.
Food Banks were not designed to be the solution to food insecurity. Now, as we are part of the fabric of the community, we must use our knowledge, experience, and data to address the root cause of why people are living in poverty in the first place. Then we can work towards a future where hunger does not exist.
The Calgary Food Bank Wants You to Know:
- You can access a hamper every 10 days
- That there are no yearly limits to receiving hampers
- You can expect an efficient drive thru hamper pick-up or “curb-side” service
- You can request a hamper online, anytime, on the website
- If you’re isolated or quarantined, we have a delivery service
- There is a safe and secure QR code so friends and family can pick up your hamper
- We are open more hours in the week and on Saturdays now
- You can pick up a hamper closer to home or work at one of 14 satellite locations throughout the city
- If you need support beyond food, we can offer guidance and make connections to some great organizations