One of the wonderful things about Edmonton is the strong sense of community and how people readily stand behind a cause to help others in need. A great organization helping people here is Edmonton’s Food Bank. According to their website, “Each month, more than 13,000 people receive food hampers from Edmonton’s Food Bank. The Food Bank also distributes food to more than 350,000 meals and snacks each month through 211 agencies, churches or food depots with which we are affiliated. Approximately 40 per cent of clients served are children under 18.” (source)
Food banks serve people and families much like yours. You probably have friends, family or coworkers who receive hampers from the food bank but you just don’t know about it. There are times when people face a financial crisis due to the loss of a job, a cut in work hours or medical issues and finances become strained. When the money goes to keeping a roof over their heads and the heat working, buying food slides down the priority list. No one, especially a child, should ever go hungry.
The holiday season is approaching fast and this is the time of year that people think more about giving, volunteering and helping those who are less fortunate. Money is always appreciated and so is any time you can volunteer to help. If you'd rather donate food, you can donate food and Edmonton’s Food Bank has a list of essentials that they always need:
- beans with or without pork
- canned meat
- canned fish
- canned fruit or vegetables
- peanut butter
- macaroni and cheese dinners
- pasta and pasta sauce
- cereal and oatmeal
- school snack items such as juice boxes, fruit cups and granola bars
- toiletries such as deodorant, shampoo and diapers
This list above are the usual things people will donate but there are a lot of things that food banks don’t ask for because they aren’t essentials. If you want to do something different and make some people really excited, think about donating from the list below. People who use or have used food banks have said they would greatly appreciate receiving these items in their hamper in addition to the staples.
Spices - When you end up eating a lot of canned, jarred or boxed food, spices can make something taste better. Salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, oregano, basil, etc., are all desired. Condiments such as ketchup and mustard are also very appreciated.
Chocolate - This isn’t a necessity but think about being in their shoes. How nice would it be to to receive a chocolate bar, cake or brownie mix along with your essentials? This is a luxury that can really brighten someone’s week.
Soup Mixes - This is a great compliment to the cans of vegetables, pasta or instant potatoes, and canned meat to make a hearty soup.
Canned Fruit (Not Pineapple) - For some reason, food banks get a lot of pineapple donated. People get excited when they see a variety of canned fruit. Think about peaches, pears, mandarin oranges, and apricots.
Crackers and Tortillas - They don’t spoil like bread will and they can be used in a variety of ways.
Rice and Lentils - We have a diverse group of ethnicities in Edmonton and for some rice or lentils are their meal staple and not potatoes. Even for those who regularly eat potatoes, rice is a nice change and a way to make a meal different. Besides, they never spoil and are filling.
Toiletries - Yes, this was already in the list above but there should be more added to it. Toilet paper, toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, conditioner (or a 2-in-1 shampoo), lotion (no one likes dry winter skin!), and baby toiletries besides diapers- wipes, formula, baby food, bottles, baby shampoo, baby soap, rash cream. Most any toiletry you would use for yourself or your family would be a good idea.
One final tip before you donate food and toiletries to any food bank. Please don’t donate expired or partially consumed food. Yes, it happens and this food will just be disposed. If you wouldn’t want to eat it then no ones would either so please keep this in mind when you are gathering your donations.
The community support from the city of Edmonton helps to keep Edmonton’s Food Bank running and anything you can do is greatly appreciated. Your support is needed all year long so when you are making your 2015 New Year resolutions, think about committing to a monthly donation for Edmonton’s Food Bank. If you want to make a donation of food, money or time, you can find more information on their website. Thanks for being a great part of our community!