Food banks stretching dollars for food

High Prairie and District Food Bank welcomes donations of cash and food. Above, assistant food bank co-ordinator Brenda Sandford, left, and volunteer Andrew Sandford stock shelves with food.

Richard Froese
For The Express

Food banks are always thankful for people who donate to help keep the shelves full to meet local needs.

Demand for food usually rises early in the New Year and in the summer.

So the question is do food banks prefer people donate food or give money?

Several food banks in the Peace region have various views. It seems many food banks prefer donations of funds over food items.

Food banks can use the funds for more than food.

High Prairie and District Food Bank values all and any donations.

“We need both food and money to operate,” says Kim Dumont, co-ordinator since 2006.

“It’s less stressful if we receive both.”

Donors can also benefit more by giving cash than food, she says.

“Anyone who donates to a charitable organization, like a food bank, receives a tax-deductible receipt,” Dumont says.

Funding also helps the society pay the bills, like electricity and other utilities.

“A lot of food banks rely on cash donations to operate,” Dumont says.

“We don’t rely on government funding.”

Food banks receive no regular funding from provincial or federal governments, she says.

Local grocery stores Freson Bros. and Super A Foods also offer pre-packaged grocery bags for people to buy to donate to the food bank.

Several food drives also stock the shelves.

The Slave Lake Native Friendship Centre manages the food bank in that area.

“It’s nice to get cash, but food is also good,” executive director Barb Courtorielle says.

She actually prefers donations of money.

“When I get cash, I can order everything and buy what I need. I can keep more in the food bank.”

Two major grocery stores in town generated a large stock of food items in a Christmas hamper campaign. Sobey’s and No Frills sold prepared bags of food valued at $5 and $10 to boost the food bank.

“We got a lot of food donations,” Courtorielle says.

“The community came together to donate.”

Grande Prairie Salvation Army Food Bank and Soup Kitchen values any donations.

“We appreciate and prefer donations of both food and funding,” says Capt. Peter Kim, executive director.

“But it’s a balancing act.”

Funding helps both the food book and benefits the donor, he adds.

“They get a tax-deductible receipt,” Kim says.

“It’s not really the reason why people give, it’s a way to give back and get back.”

Donations of food help the food bank ensure the food is available and shelves are stocked.

Funding can also keep the food bank stocked.

“If we’re short on some kinds of food items, we can buy what we need,” Kim says.

“Funding also helps ensure food gets delivered to the people that need it.”

Generous donations also replenish the shelves in the annual Grande Prairie Rotary Community Food Bank Drive in September.

Swan Hills Food Bank and Santa’s Elves program appreciates donations of food and money.

“We’re happy with both,” president Rita Krawies says.

Donations of funding help both the donor and the food bank.

“With funding, we can buy perishable foods,” Krawies says.

“If people donate money, they can get a tax-deductible receipt.”

Food helps fill the shelves at the food bank, she says.

The food bank also gets a big boost from a Fill-a-Bus campaign in the fall.

Peace River Food Bank is operated by Peace River Salvation Army Community .

“Funding helps us when we need to buy food when we are short,” says Maj. Grayling Crites, community ministries officer.

During Christmas, funding helps the food bank buy turkeys for Christmas hampers, he says.

Cash also allows the food bank to deal with unusual circumstances.

“When we have funding, we have money for people in emergencies,” Crites says.

“But that doesn’t happen very often.”

He says the food bank occasionally buys kitchen supplies and small appliances for people in dire situations.

“We have money to help people buy supplies in emergencies,” Crites says.

Funding also helps other operations of the food bank such as paying for utilities.

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