A $100,000 grant from the Community Services Recovery Fund that was received by the Airdrie Food Bank on Thursday afternoon will be used to purchase much-needed equipment for the local food bank.

Lori McRitchie, the Executive Director of the Airdrie Food Bank explained that with these funds, they will be looking to purchase a forklift.

"We were in desperate need of a forklift to assist us with operations that are off-site [at the leased] warehouse; we have been receiving much more food from our industry partners. That warehouse space [is] where we were renting forklifts to be able to facilitate food coming in and going out," she said. 

According to a written press release by the food bank, the grant has played a pivotal role in enhancing the Airdrie Food Bank's operational capabilities.

"This equipment is vital to efficiently receiving, sorting, and distributing donations to serve the growing number of individuals and families seeking assistance."

McRitchie explained that the grant was aimed a non-profit organizations that were working within their respective communities to help their residents recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"There were three pillars of this grant that were available, and one of the pillars was applying for the grant through your local foundation if you had a community foundation; it was for capacity building for organizations. This substantial grant of $100,000 is a significant stride towards strengthening our efforts and ensuring that no one in our community goes hungry."

She added that The Airdrie & District Community Foundation was also instrumental in helping the food bank secure the grant. And as she reflects on her nearly two decades with the Airdrie Food Bank, there is more need than ever in the community.

"The use of our services is up 55 per cent over last year. We're seeing more and more people who [are in need of us], many new families. There are people who are arriving from Yellowknife right now or from Ukraine in the last few months. We are busy, we are very busy." 

The increased demand coupled with a decrease in donations from the community has been a challenge.

"The results of that are is that we don't have any soup - there are actually 15 items on our shelves right now that we are out of. However, what has increased, is our donations through industry partners."

Industry partners also participate in 'recovered food', which McRitchie explains is food that may have been damaged (package-wise in transport and will not be accepted) by grocery stores.

"We're able to take that and to save it from going to the landfill - it's not always the food that's most needed, but its food that is greatly received. We've seen those [industry donation] numbers go up because we've increased our partnerships. We've become good stewards of people's goodwill."

The grant was one of four grants that were awarded to various Airdrie and area organizations, though Airdrie's Food Bank received the largest donation. Other local recipient organizations include the North Rocky View Community Links Society, which received over $96,000 for computer upgrades, the Rocky View Foundation, which received over $53,000 for furnishings, as well as $45,000 that was granted to the Thumbs Up Foundation for marketing a fundraising campaign.

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