By Cole Parkinson
With the Taber Food Bank gearing up for a new initiative later this month, they were in Municipal District of Taber council chambers to bring awareness to the work they do.
During the M.D.’s regular meeting on Jan. 25, a delegation consisting of Taber Food Bank President Kevin Leahy and Treasurer Matilda Van Huizen had a chance to discuss some of the work they did last year and initiatives they are working on for the coming months.
The Christmas season is always a particularity challenging time for the group as people need help during the entirety of the month of December.
“In the early days it was common to give out 40 food hampers a month. Over the years the need has grown to where we now give out more than 150 hampers per month. For our 2017 Christmas Hamper Program we gave out 175 hampers,” said Leahy, who also highlighted that the food bank has continued on an upward trend into 2018. “As of Jan. 23, 2018 we have handed out 118 hampers, helping 179 adults and 102 children. That is a total of 6,628 pounds of food so far this month.”
On top of the hampers the food bank provides, they also have a section where fresh food is available for all who use the facility.
Even with the amount of food that was provided by the hampers, the total would have been even larger if the fresh food section was counted.
“We have a pick shelf where clients are able to fill their shopping bag with bread products, dairy products or vegetables as they become available from the local grocery stores. The pick shelf is filled constantly throughout the day and that weight is not in the total I stated earlier,” added Leahy.
The Taber Food Bank also provides assistance to other food banks in the area when they run into issues.
“We also help out other food banks when possible, like Vauxhall and Coaldale. Vauxhall has had 200 pounds of food shipped to them from us already,” said Leahy, who also stated food bank usage picks up significantly after the fall harvest while the opposite happens when harvest picks up in the spring.
With the delegation to M.D. council, the pair weren’t after anything specific other than trying to bring some awareness to the work they do.
“I am here today not to ask for money, which you might be thankfully for,” said Leahy with a chuckle. “But to have our M.D. informed and involved in supporting the Food Bank.”
One of the big initiatives that is coming up for the Taber Food Bank is the Coldest Night of the Year which goes down on Feb. 24.
The event is centred around getting the community together to raise money for those in need across the country by walking either a two kilometre, five kilometre, or 10 kilometre distance around Taber with all three routes starting at Taber Christian School. Registration for kids 0-10 is free, 11-17 is $25 or free with a minimum of $75 raised and 18 and over is $25 or free with a minimum of $125 raised. The staff at the Taber Food Bank is hoping to raise $20,000 in funds with money raised from the Coldest Night of the Year walk going to two different programs — the Protein Butchering Program and the Fresh Fruit Program.
Councillors all seemed to agree that being visible in these types of events would be beneficially.
“I think it would speak loudly if some of us could put in a team or decide to volunteer,” said Coun. Tamara Miyanaga.
While the possibility of the M.D. making a contribution was brought up, they were more comfortable in participating on a family- based level whether it be a financially contribution or volunteering to help with the walk. If you are interested in participating in the Coldest Night of the Year and raising funds for the Taber Food Bank visit cnoy.org/location/taber.