In five days' time, on Saturday, September 16, the Airdrie Food Bank will be holding its annual city-wide food drive. The food drive comes at a crucial moment in time for the city's food bank. 

Christine Taylor, the Events, Marketing and Communication Manager at the Airdrie Food Bank said that this month poses a challenge for the food bank as food stocks are low.

"Heading into the city-wide food drive, we are in need of 15 or more of our most needed items. If we don't have those goods, we have to purchase them, [which] we have been doing."

Taylor estimated that last year, the Food Bank spent over $36,000, on school-related food for kids - the breakfast lunch and snack program, as well as over $37,000 on formula for the youngest members in the community. Another $27,000 was spent on milk to make sure that the food bank's hampers had a dairy source.

Taylor noted, that as individual families can feel the impact of rising grocery prices in their home budgets, so too does food bank. In fact, it's not just monetary consequences that the food bank feels. According to a recent media release, the food bank has also had to cancel volunteer shifts due to lack of foodstuffs on their shelves.

"We are looking at 55 per cent more people served [compared to last year] by the food bank. 44 per cent of those are children, which is 12 per cent higher than the national average. We know that our community has young kids, and a lot of kids go to school hungry so our appeal for kids programs is essential to the food bank," Taylor said.

She added that more and more often, those who utilize the food bank are families in which there are two incomes in the household, but due to the high cost of necessities, they too are struggling to make ends meet. 

"It's working families; people that are working really hard and still tend not to make ends meet and are having to choose between paying a mortgage or a bill over purchasing food. That's why we're here - as an emergency food support."

Hence the city-wide food drive will be essential to replenishing the food bank's stocks. Beginning this week, Taylor said that volunteers will be out and about dropping bags that have tags on them to front doors in the city. However, she underlined that these bags are not delivered to apartment and condominium buildings.

"We'd love for people to fill their bag with essential non-perishable foods that could be used as a meal or served as standalone nourishment and school-friendly snacks.  We're looking for food that is not passed its best-before date, no damaged packages, and no homemade food."

Come this Saturday, September 16, residents are asked to put their bags out, taking note of the time tag that is attached to the bag. If for whatever reason the bag isn't collected, bags can also be donated at any grocery store. 

For those who wish to donate money, that can also be done through the food bank's online portal. Taylor added that this is the first year such an option has been offered. 

Apart from the food bank's city-wide food drive, there another initiative that has been started by Councillor Tina Petrow

Councillor Petrow is currently undertaking the "Hiking For Hunger" to help fundraise for the Airdrie Food Bank. She plans to hike up to 60 kilometres to raise $10,000 for the Airdrie Food Bank.

"I think it's a really great way to show people how you can be creative in raising funds," Taylor said. 

Despite the food bank facing pressures, Taylor said that theyhave not turned anyone away and do not plan to do so, no matter what the situation may be.

"We're really proud of the fact that during COVID, we were able to serve everyone and we still are able to," Taylor underlined. "We will still continue to; things just might look different in some ways, but we will always be here for community."

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