OUTPUTS AND OUTCOMES
Emergency Food Hampers provide clients in temporary emergency situations with one week’s worth of food and referrals to outside organizations. Food is provided to low-income and food insecure Calgarians. We connect clients with community resources that can address the underlying issues of food insecurity. 25% of clients are referred to other community agencies.
GOALS The goals for the program are to be within 10%, plus or minus in the coming fiscal year. Our goals in 2019/20 for hampers distributed was met, goals for money saved and clients helped by agencies was exceeded. Our goal for referring to agencies was not met, and this can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic.
When a state of emergency was declared in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Calgary Food Bank made immediate changes to the Emergency Food Hamper Program. The purpose of these changes was to ensure the health and safety of volunteers, clients, and staff. The most significant change was the implementation of the outdoor drive-thru model of distribution, followed by online ID validation to reduce physical contact. As many partner organizations closed or reduced operations, we amended its referral policies so that clients could receive immediate food support. Hamper distribution hours and hamper request phone-line hours were increased, as well as the number and frequency of hampers that a household could access within a twelve-month period. Hamper requests are now assessed on a case-by-case basis with no annual cap, and the frequency at which a household could access Emergency Food Hampers is reduced to as soon as ten days.
Over the course of 2020 we continued to improve the processes that had been introduced in response to COVID-19. These adaptations have been successful in allowing the us to book and process more clients’ requests, therefore increasing the amount of community members whose immediate hunger needs are being met. Some changes, however, have resulted in a more ‘transactional’ process putting much of work the Calgary Food Bank does to refer clients to additional community supports or programs on hold. Indeed, further longitudinal analysis may provide more insight into the detrimental impact of relaxed policies on client dependency and prolonged root cause issues.
- 72% of programs that had previously referred to the Calgary Food Bank saw a decrease in referrals made.
- 19% increased their referrals.
- 157 programs (34%) made no referrals during the period March 2020 – January 2021.
- 44 new programs (9%) joined during the same period.
Now, over a year on from the introduction of COVID-19 response policies,we are in the early stages of working to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on partner organizations’ operations, and to take actions to improve communications and referral processes under new circumstances. Surveying 62 agencies and through consequential in-depth interviews about the impact of COVID-19 on their operations, engagement with and experience with the Calgary Food Bank in March 2021, illustrated that not all agencies had knowledge of the Food Bank’s adapted policies in response to COVID-19. The 52 responses to the statement: ‘I have knowledge about the Calgary Food Bank’s change in how many days clients must leave in between hampers (previously 30 days, now 10 days)’, 69.2% somewhat agreed or strongly agreed, while 28.9% somewhat or strongly disagreed. This indicates a significant amount of agency workers who did not have updated information. As such, this identified as an area to improve to ensure that the program’s offerings are equally accessible for clients for whom the agency is their main access point to emergency food. This understanding demonstrates that positive programmatic change, decoupled from proactive, exhaustive communication, renders change less effective and must become a focus area. Already work is underway to build better relationships with agencies; to ensure comprehensive training at the point of joining for all agency workers working in partnership with the Calgary Food Bank via the Emergency Hamper Program and to better understand the channels by which agencies access information about the Food Bank Program and any changes.
Referrals both to the Food Bank and from the Food Bank to relevant community supports fell drastically during the pandemic and remain lower than previous years (see data on referrals below). While these statistics can be justified by necessary adaptations in response to COVID-19, the more ‘transactional’ process does not serve Calgary Food Bank’s mission to tackle root causes and as referenced earlier, we cannot yet assess the negative impact that relaxed policies may have had a client’s food insecurity. Through closer partnership with agencies, the program team seeks to build back better referral processes through improved training, data-informed referrals, improved information navigation and improved quality assurance measures.
We are projecting for 2021/22, the number of Emergency Hampers distributed to be between 79,359 (min) and 96,995 (max).
We are projecting for 2021/22, the number of referrals to agencies to be between 404 (min) and 494 (max).
We are projecting for 2021/22 the money saved to be between $27,837,953 million (min) and $34,024,165 million (max).
We are projecting for 2021/22 the clients helped by agencies to be between 19,748 (min) and 24,136 (max).
SHORT-TERM OUTCOMES Relieving food insecurity and providing support for clients who are experiencing emergency situations. Alleviate the stress of wondering where the next meal is coming from.
LONG-TERM OUTCOMES Creating a hunger-free community.