Food Banks-More Than Just Food Aid by Ethan Borle, St. Leonard’s-on -the-Hill, Red Deer

“FOOD IS THE STUFF OF LIFE. IT NOURISHES OUR BODIES AND CONNECTS US TO OTHERS. GOOD QUALITY FOOD SHOULD NOT BE OUT OF REACH FOR ANYONE.”
– JAMES  MCARA, CEO​, CALGARY INTER-FAITH FOOD BANK

Today was an extremely interesting day for those of us attending the PWRDF Sharing Bread-Calgary food security workshop at St. Barnabas Anglican Church in Calgary. We listened to numerous speakers who presented on a variety of topics ranging from PWDRF’s work within the field of food security, the Canadian Foodgrains Bank’s Good Soil advocacy campaign, A Rocha’s Community Garden training plan, and advocacy and action rooted in our faith.

One of the presenters I personally found most interesting was James McAra, CEO of the Calgary Inter-faith Food Bank. His talk really opened my eyes to the role that the Food Bank plays in the community and just how much more it does than simply provide food aid to those in need. Mr. McAra explained to us that the goal of the Food Bank is to ensure that those who make use of its services never have to do so again. To help attain this goal every person seeking assistance is referred to one or more other organizations depending on his or her specific needs and situation. In this way the Food Bank not only offers food aid but also becomes a service provider that connects those in need to groups that can help them deal with the root causes of their need for food assistance.

Because of this approach around 45% of people who come to the Food Bank will only use its services once and almost 90% will use it three or less times. Most of these people seek the assistance of the food bank during times of personal crisis in their lives whether it be job loss, separation, sickness in the family or other reasons and who therefore could greatly benefit from extra help or counselling on top of food aid.

I was very happy to hear of these types of initiatives and am glad that a more holistic approach has been taken in dealing with issues of food aid and food security in the Calgary community.

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