Food Bank Sign - © 2023 Hillcrest Food Bank

Snapshots: Canadian Food Bank News File

You can hardly open up your browser these days without seeing a new, gloomy headline about the dire straits of our Food Banks. Rising demand amid waning donations. This week there’s some good news in the Food Reliefsphere for a change…

Hillcrest Food Bank - © 2023 - Hillcrest Food BankGrade 5 and 6 student volunteers help adults sort first donations to new
Food Bank in Toronto. Existing facilities can’t meet rising demand…

But first, the ‘bad’ news…

Just days after reports that Toronto’s Daily Bread Food Bank is facing record demand – and record stress in meeting it – a new Food Bank has opened in The Big Smoke. The Hillcrest Food Bank is a member of the Daily Bread FB Network. It’s in an area that already has a Food Bank. But the existing one just can’t meet growing demand from the community. Its maximum capacity of 300 clients a day has topped out.

Neil Hetherington, Daily Bread’s CEO, hosted an official opening of the new facility. “Today is a sad day. We have to open up a new food bank. […] Over the course of this past year, we’ve seen food bank usage grow at rates that are unprecedented.”

A unique community effort

The Hillcrest Food Bank is a cooperative effort between the Hillcrest Christian Church and Hillcrest Community School. The Bank is located in the church basement and is staffed part time by grade 5 and 6 student volunteers from the school.

“I just sometimes think like, when you’re eating dinner or having a snack at school, that maybe not everybody has this,” said sixth grader Annie Love. “It makes me feel like I’m actually doing something to help.”


Virtually everyone on the Food Relief spectrum is calling on governments at all levels to help fund the crushing demand at Food Banks across the land. And there, I’m happy to say, there is some light at the end of the tunnel that’s not an oncoming train…

Alberta boosts food relief support

The Alberta government has announced it is doling out a total of $10 million to help fight food insecurity across the province.

“It’s becoming harder and harder to be able to buy groceries. And often Albertans are having to choose between paying rent or buying food,” Seniors, Community and Social Services Minister Jason Nixon told reporters earlier this week.

Calgary Food Bank CEO Melissa From o0bserved, “There’s some funding that goes to the day to day, and then there’s some funding for emergent needs, and also some funding that allows us to perhaps look at some innovative ways to look at our operations and do things differently.”

The Calgary FB serves more than 700 clients a day. That’s an increase of 30 percent over just the past year.

Quebec helps communities fight hunger

Quebec Finance Minister Eric Girard highlighted Food Bank needs in an economic update this past Tuesday. In particular, he promised the government will take ‘targeted action’ to address food affordability, housing costs and other inflation-related issues.

The province will spend $145 million to support food banks and fight homelessness. Like Alberta, Quebec has seen a 30 percent increase in Food Bank demand over the past year. Girard calls it, “a historic situation.”

… And don’t forget our furry friends

A Real Doggie Bag - © bzdogs.comFamily pets – mainly cats and dogs – bring joy, comfort and companionship to millions. For come older folks and those living alone, their pets may be their only regular daily contact with other living creatures. Pet well being is a major factor in human well being.

Among those most dependent on their animal companions as our veterans. Many suffer from PTSD and other service-related emotional and physical ailments that members of the general population are much less likely to experience. And as we’ve reported previously in this space, pet food costs are going through the roof just like human grocery prices.

To that end, MOMMS Premium Pet Foods accepted donations of pet supplies for weeks leading up to its annual pet food drive on Nov. 4.

“It’s becoming a huge success. Every single year gets bigger and bigger and we just love this charity,” said owner Chris Malmberg. “When the community hears about veterans and pets, Calgary comes together. We get people coming from the northeast, from the northwest. They come from all over Calgary and Okotoks.”

And Malmberg stressed, it’s not just cats and dogs that are at risk of going hungry. “Our veterans don’t just have dogs and cats. They have ferrets, they have parrots, they have snakes, they have lizards, so anything that helps feed a pet, we will accept and we’ll accept open bags (of food) too, but please make sure they’re sealed properly.”

A higher proportion of veterans than the general population also have service animals who have to eat.

My take

Kudos to Alberta and Quebec for stepping up and helping the Food Banks feed those most in need!

And what a great idea, to support Pet Food Banks, as well. Most pet food stores have donation boxes up front near the cash register, as well.

At our house, we have no trouble affording proper food and care for our feline and canine companions. But I can well imagine the sickening decisions some folks are having to make. Do they feed themselves or their pets first?

~ Maggie J.