Even though it has only been about two months since the Stettler Food Bank was the recipient of the community’s generosity with the annual food drive, the shelves are becoming bare and use is increasing with the festive season upon us.
To help the food bank, TransCanada Pipelines made a $1,000 donation on Friday, Dec. 2.
The money will go into buying staples to keep the shelves from getting empty, said Betty Birch, president of the food bank society.
According to Birch, the use during the holidays tends to go up a little as families on tight budgets try to make room for gifts for their loved ones.
While much of the donations – especially soup – are still keeping shelves full, in other areas, such as canned vegetables and fruit, cheese spread, pancake mix and syrup and pasta, the shelves are increasingly bare.
Even though community partners like Walmart, Sean’s No Frills and Sobeys are assisting the food bank to keep the shelves full of items like bread, diapers, toilet paper and paper towels and other needed staples, the need is great in other quarters.
“Coffee and tea would be wonderful,” Birch said. It’s one of the items people absolutely love, but one that is not considered a staple. Once donated coffee and tea is gone, the food bank doesn’t buy more with its money.
“We are buying lots of the groceries now, too,” Birch confirmed. “We’ve probably run out of half of the food from the food drive in October.”
Her wish list, in addition to coffee, tea and hot chocolate, and canned vegetables and food, include shampoo, bar soap, women’s hygiene products, canned meat and fish, pasta and sauce, and pancake mix and syrup.
When Christmas approaches, the community is in the giving spirit, something that brings Birch much joy. However, when people arrange to do small collections for the food bank and don’t inform the food bank, it leaves them in an awkward position.
“Just let us know,” Birch said. “Then we can expect it, and we can arrange a pick up. We’re not surprised when people come and tell us about it. Help us help you.”
Though the food bank isn’t affiliated with the Christmas Hamper Society, it does let its clientele know about the project. The last week of sign ups for the Christmas Hamper is this week, according to Patrick Callin at Stettler’s Family and Community Support Services (FCSS).
Beyond that, though, the food bank, in trying to serve the 120 families that come through its doors monthly, could also use lunch items for families with children.
“We can always use cheese spread and peanut butter,” Birch said. “School lunch supplies like juice boxes and granola bars are always appreciated.”
Donating healthy food is important. While many people want to donate ‘treats’ for families down on their luck, the collective result of that urge means the food bank sometimes has a lot of less-than-ideal food to share. The healthier supplies the food bank can provide, the healthier the food the people who are in need have to keep them going.
One thing the food bank doesn’t need right now is soup or potatoes.
“The Gadsby (Hutterite) Colony has been supplying us with fresh potatoes for months now,” Birch said. “They’re awesome – they’re great people.”
The food bank is open in the basement of the Stettler United Church on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 1-3 p.m., and on Wednesday evenings from 5 to 6 p.m.