Canada’s First Food Bank Makes History

The Edmonton Gleaners Association, more commonly known as Edmonton’s Food Bank, was officially incorporated on Jan. 16, 1981. This moment in history marked the organization as Canada’s first-ever food bank. Today, Edmonton’s Food Bank continues to play a crucial role in the community. 

According to its most recent data report, the organization provided over 30,000 food hampers in March of 2022 alone. Each year, Edmonton’s Food Bank purchases about $1 million worth of food, answers an average of 350-500 phone calls per day, and has responded to as many as 80 emails and 619 phone inquiries in one day. 

This highlights the urgent need to provide families and individuals access to food and nutritious meals, a situation further exacerbated by the pandemic.

Rallying community support

Edmonton’s Food Bank relies on food donations and teams of volunteers to be able to distribute food to those who need it. Monetary donations allow the organization to purchase perishable food items such as milk, eggs, and fresh vegetables and fruits to keep hampers nutritionally balanced.

Edmonton’s Food Bank couldn’t do all of this without help from the local community, like Edmontonian Cameron Schiffner, local small businesses, and the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation.

In March 2021, the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation donated net proceeds from the organization’s 50/50 draw to Edmonton’s Food Bank and Northern Alberta food banks. The generous gift was to honour the late Walter Gretzky, who passed away on March 4, 2021. The donation supported Edmonton’s Food Bank’s warehouse operations and programs.

“The fact that we are honouring Walter Gretzky’s wishes makes this gesture even more poignant, as he cared very deeply about giving back to the community,” said Marjorie Bencz, Executive Director of Edmonton’s Food Bank.

Brad Shaw, CEO of Shaw Communications, announced a 10-year commitment to donate $300,000 yearly to Edmonton’s Food Bank, which helps support child-focused programs and provide healthy food for people in need.

“We understand that the current circumstances facing our communities are particularly difficult. My family and I are honoured to support the good work of our province’s charities,” said Brad Shaw, business leader and philanthropist.

Edmonton’s Food Bank’s mission and values

Since 1981, Edmonton Food Bank’s mission is to help those who are experiencing food insecurity. The organization envisions a community where all people have access to food and where hunger does not exist.

However, providing food to people in need is just the tip of the iceberg of what the organization does. While food donations satisfy an immediate need, the act alone does not create a long-term impact. Food insecurity is a symptom of poverty. Edmonton’s Food Bank also works to meet with government decision-makers to report what the team is seeing on the frontline. 

The organization collects client information to understand who is impacted by poverty. This data is then presented to government officials to explain what deep-rooted change is needed, such as affordable childcare, affordable housing, access to education, and disparities in income opportunities.

Ways to give to the Edmonton’s Food Bank

Although Edmonton’s Food Bank provides millions of dollars worth of food per year, food supplies often run low. To give to a worthy cause, individuals, families, and corporations can:

  • Give Food — Drop nonperishable food items at a fire station or at Edmonton’s Food Bank’s main warehouse at 11508-120 Street during hours of operation. Packages over 100lbs are eligible for pickup.
  • Give Money — Become a monthly donor. This helps the Edmonton Food Bank pay for the overhead costs of running the organization.
  • Sponsor a Hamper — Sponsors pay for the cost of providing a food hamper for communities in need, such as feeding a family or buying a community meal.
  • Volunteer — Lend time to help Edmonton’s Food Bank fulfill volunteer positions such as food sorter, repackager, driver, hamper builder, client services, special events, and more.

Learn more about Edmonton’s Food Bank and how to help through its official website or by calling (780) 425-2133.

Source: Edmonton’s Food Bank