Alberta's food banks more vital than ever

ATB donates $143,685 to 83 food banks across Alberta

By ATB Financial 14 December 2020

Every month, 20,000 people access food hampers from Edmonton’s Food Bank. Two hundred and fifty agencies across the city help the food bank by distributing food to the communities they serve, and more than 1,900 volunteers and volunteer groups are associated with the organization.

All of those numbers add up to one very important message, according to Marjorie Bencz, the executive director of Edmonton’s Food Bank.

“It certainly is a community effort,” Bencz said. “We rely 100 per cent on contributions we get from the bigger community, and people volunteering. The partnerships are what makes it all happen.”


‘A vital part of the community’

ATB was started 80 years ago during the great depression to help Albertans through hard times, and we are still doing that today. This holiday season, we donated $143,685 to 83 food banks across the province—including Edmonton’s Food Bank and the County of 40 Mile Food Bank.
These donations include contributions from a variety of teams across ATB. Some of our clients in Edmonton also donated five minivan-loads of food.

“We’re supporting Albertans by supporting the important work that these food banks do every day,” said Chris Turchansky, ATB’s Chief Experience Officer. “It’s just one way we’re built to help Albertans.”


Pivoting operations

Like many food banks and charitable organizations, Edmonton’s Food Bank was forced to pivot their operations when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit in March. Social distancing measures meant that large corporate groups were unable to volunteer, and the frontline delivery of food had to change to ensure continued safety of both workers and clients.

“In March, our numbers really jumped up,” Bencz said. “We had 25,000 that month for the hamper programs plus an influx of soup kitchens and shelters needing either more services or different kinds of services.”

Down in Bow Island, Robert Van Roessel is seeing the same increase in demand for the County of 40 Mile Food Bank’s services.

“We were actually under average for the summer but now it’s picking up again,” said Van Roessel, who chairs the food bank in the southern Alberta community. “Because CERB has ended, we’re seeing an uptick in the last few months before Christmas.”

Despite the changes brought about by the pandemic, both Van Roessel and Bencz say their communities have found ways to step up and help continue supporting the food banks.

“We rely on a lot of events to raise the non-perishable food items,” Bencz said. “Because the event world has changed so much, people have found other ways to support us by going online and contributing.”

Supporting Alberta food banks was a natural fit for ATB’s holiday contributions this year, Turchansky said.

“Alberta food banks are such a vital part of the community and go above and beyond to support people in need,” said Turchansky. “With new challenges and increased demand as a result of the pandemic, supporting food banks is more important than ever."

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