My family is similar to many families in this province – we work hard, pay our bills, chauffeur our kids to their various activities, and go on a holiday once or twice (if we’re really lucky) a year. We watch our budgets, but buy most things that we need when we want to.  We don’t have an extravagant lifestyle.  Sounds normal, right?

Not too long ago, I was fortunate enough to visit the Leduc Food Bank for a behind-the-scenes tour and to hand over a cheque for $30,000 to Alberta Food Banks, on behalf of Egg Farmers of Alberta. I was expecting a quick in-and-out event, but the time flew as the director explained all the different processes involved in collecting and storing the food, and getting that food to the people who need it.  She shared stories about their clients (anonymously, of course), the care and compassion they take with those clients, the many volunteers, the challenges and successes.  I was SO impressed!

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The Leduc Food Bank constantly strives to innovate and find new ways to provide for their clients. One partnership includes taking all the liquids/gels that are rejected at the Edmonton International Airport security screening.  Generally there is nothing wrong with these products – they are just over the 100 mL size allowance.  Many food bank clients can’t afford food, let alone personal care products.  They also partner with hotels to take the leftover shampoos and soaps, which they recycle or repurpose by providing them to local shelters.

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You would expect that in our rich province, with our healthy economy and low unemployment rates, that there wouldn’t be a lot of demand for services provided by the food banks. While I don’t know much about the population and dynamics in the Leduc area, I am familiar with my own area.  Close to 75,000 people live in the two nearest towns and county, and they are growing by leaps and bounds.  Many of the families here work in the oil and gas industries or in Edmonton.

Our local food bank is the Parkland Food Bank. Their mission is “to address the needs of hunger”.  I did a bit of research and checked out their latest annual report.  In 2013, our food bank had 1938 registered clients and fed 16,143 people; a whopping 41% of them are children!  In addition, they support many different community programs such as breakfast and lunch programs at schools, the Kinsmen and Kinettes and the youth centre.  I’m also sad to say that they are working on an expansion project – I wish it wasn’t needed.

Following this tour, I’ve become much more conscious about what gets put in my grocery cart and I always try to get a little extra for donations to the big boxes we can find at any grocery store.

The food banks love to receive eggs whenever they can – they are a healthy source of protein and an economical choice, but because they are perishable and fragile, the food banks need to purchase them on a regular basis. With me on my visit was my fellow Director, Muneer Gilani, whose family owns and operates a grading station.  They are very much a partner with the food banks, as they will often make deliveries and donations.  Talking with some of my fellow Hutterite egg farmers over the last few weeks, I learned that they often donate potatoes and vegetables to food banks throughout the province.  Farmers feed the world, one family at a time and I am so proud to be part of that!

If you can, please try to support your local food bank – many families will be thanking you!