Fort McMurray food bank to run first full food drive in 2 years this weekend

The Wood Buffalo Food Bank Association is running its first full food drive in two years, as pandemic restrictions ease and the need for donations increases.

The food bank, located in Fort McMurray, hands out about 600 hampers and serves about 30 to 40 new clients every month. But donations are a bit low, said executive director Dan Edwards.

The food drive, which runs from Nov. 25-28, is expected to bring an influx of cash and food.

“We are consistently full and still seeing new folks needing assistance each month,” said Edwards.

“We’re really excited to be able to get that event happening.”

He added that the lower amount of donations could be due to a number of factors, such as people staying at home.

The food drive will be set up as normal, with a truck outside the grocery store and a group of cohort volunteers asking for and collecting donations, Edwards said.

The food bank is working with Alberta Health Services to make sure the event is run safely. 

The goal is to raise $300,000 and collect 80,000 pounds of food.

The food bank ran a food drive last year, but the volunteers didn’t talk to people or hand out lists of needed items. As a result, the food drive only collected 8,000 pounds of food. 

Having people at the grocery stores asking for donations helps because “putting faces to an organisation always makes a difference,” said Linda Mywaart, a food bank volunteer for about 10 years.

“Being out there in person gives us the opportunity to highlight how the need has increased,” said Mywaart. 

“I hope that the community will step up this weekend and meet that need.” 

Volunteer spots filled quickly for this weekend’s food drive, Edwards said. This is  good because they “make the weekend.”

“We’re so appreciative of all the support we get from the community.”

B.C. floods may lead to supply issues for Fort McMurray food bank

The Wood Buffalo Food Bank Association has gotten by without food drives for two years, thanks to donations stemming from the Fort McMurray flood in April 2020, Edwards said.

“So much food came up to support us that we were able to manage and mitigate the fact that the food drives didn’t happen, that we had extra stock,” said Edwards. “But that extra stock is going away. So now we do need to have an event happen.” 

Edwards predicts the food bank will experience some supply issues in the near future because of flooding in B.C. and shortages on foods like durum wheat. 

He’s going to try to make sure future supply chain issues won’t affect the size of the food hampers. He’ll also communicate with the community and ask people to support and donate to the food bank if there are issues that arise, Edwards said.

The next food drive will be in the Spring.

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