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Supply chain shortage impacts Calgary and Cranbrook food banks

Calgary Food Bank has stopped supplying Cranbrook Foodbank Society with goods
Santa Claus Parade chair Shane Nickel-Thibodeau handed Cranbrook Foodbank Society volunteer coordinator Rachel Wolff a cheque for $3,957.03 on March 22. The money will go towards obtaining food essentials to feed locals in need (photo by Gillian Francis)

Locals visiting the Cranbrook Foodbank Society may notice that shelves are a little emptier as of late.

The organization’s largest food provider, The Calgary Food Bank (CFB), has been hit with supply chain issues, leaving volunteers and staff searching for more sources of funding and support to fill the gap.

CFB formerly provided foodbank society with 170,000 lbs of food per year through a national food share program, but the program was suspended at the end of last year so the organization could meet rising demands in Calgary.

“They’ve had such a spike in their own numbers that they’ve not been able to offer that support the way they used to,” said Katie Orr, executive director of the Cranbrook Foodbank Society. “That leaves us in a tough position. That’s why we’re trying to pivot and look at different ways to get food coming in.”

Without reliable supply, the foodbank society has not been able to sustain the same inventory or keep up with rising food prices and demand for products. Staples like canned salmon and tuna have become harder to obtain.

“The availability of it is declining and the price is increasing,” Orr explained in reference to canned fish. “We do really value it though because some of our clients are unhoused and they really rely on food like that, especially the pull top. It’s shelf stable and it doesn’t need to be refrigerated.”

Foodbank society’s total number of active clients currently rests at 2,500, a 29 per cent increase from last year. This is higher than the overall national increase. Food Bank Canada reported that visits across all Canadian food banks rose 15 per cent.

READ MORE: Desperate B.C. students raiding dumpsters, using food banks and bartering for meals

Orr said the foodbank will rely on community events and donations to help them bring in more food.

On March 22, Junior Chamber International Kootenay donated $3,957.04 from Santa Claus parade funds to the foodbank society to buy more food products.

The LDS Church will be collecting food products from residents who leave goods on their front doorstep on the morning of May 6. The church will distribute door hangers to residences with information on desired food items and pick-up times the week prior to the drive. There will also be pick-up locations stationed at Jim Smith Lake, Elizabeth Lake and Gold Creek for people who live in outlying areas.

The foodbank will take part in Spirit of the Rockies, formerly known as Sam Steele Days, through a competition called CANstruction. The event, scheduled to run June 17, encourages contestants to design and build structures using only canned and boxed food.

It will host its first ever “farm-to-table” dinner and dance on Sept. 23 at Wycliffe Rodeo Grounds. There will be dinner, live music, and silent and live auctions. A shuttle bus will take people to and from the event. Orr said they’re currently looking for sponsors. The sponsor that provides the greatest amount of money will have their business’s name featured in the title of event.


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About the Author: Gillian Francis

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