Group steps it up with food drive

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September 23, 2014 9:33 AM

There is one simple, indisputable fact of life that is needing attention more often than normal in Lloydminster this year. Humans need to eat to stay alive. With a 45 per cent hike in rental rates at some apartment buildings in the city, people have been left with three choices:  Buy food, pay rent or move away from Lloydminster altogether.

The Salvation Army is the only food bank in Lloydminster, so when there is a heavy demand on their services, they reach out to the community that always responds in a big way. One example is The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints who are stepping up with their fourth annual food drive.

“We saw a need, we are Christian-based, we thought we’d help out,” organizer Darius Jensen said.  From that simple statement, a force was mobilized four years ago that is continuing to fill a need in the community.

While there has been a small exodus from Lloydminster, most people have decided to stick it out and use the services of the Salvation Army’s Food Bank to help them keep going forward.

Shannon Weinberger, who looks after the food bank, says, “The food bank is busy as usual this fall, with almost every appointment filled each day. We have served approximately 90 families so far in September alone.”

The food bank gets help to fill their shelves on a regular basis from various organizations and groups in the community. This time it is the Latter Day Saints.

“How it works is, we’ll be putting pamphlets in the mailboxes Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday of this week, so that people know that this food drive is happening,” said Jensen. “It (pamphlet) states what kinds of food the food bank can accept and that we will be picking up the food on Saturday, Sept.  27 between 10 (a.m.) and noon, as long as it is on their front doorstep.”

“Through my profession (Alberta Works), I work with Shannon (Weinberger), the Salvation Army Food Bank co-ordinator. It seems that over summer, the food bank is depleted. No one really donates much over the summer, so we thought we would step in and help out.”

How this drive works is the city has been drawn into sections.

“And all of our volunteers through our church will be handing out these pamphlets,” said Jensen. If you do not receive a pamphlet, you can call 780-875-5772 to get one.

The group wishes the food be left on your front step before 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 27. Volunteers will collect it sometime before noon.

The Salvation Army is requesting only non-perishable food items. Suggestions include canned foods, pasta, in all forms, rice, pasta sauces, peanut butter, the real staples of life. Pre-packaged cereals, fruit cups and 100 per cent real juice boxes are also very welcome. “Last year, it was approximately 4,500 pounds of food that was picked up,” said Jenson. “The food drives that came in over the summer were wonderful,”  said Weinberger, “they got us through the season, but we are low on a few things and really need the supplies replenished.” The Salvation Army’s wish list for this time around includes canned soups, canned vegetables, pasta sauce, canned fruit, canned meats, rice and beans. Please remember that any out-dated food items cannot be accepted.

When asked if this food drive will make a long lasting impact, Jensen easily says, “No. The food that we gather, that 400 to 500 pounds, will last a couple of months.”

Any cash donations received go straight to the Salvation Army.

“We prefer food,” said Jensen, “though last year, I think we had about a thousand dollars in cash, but, we never received gift cards, although I don’t see why that would be a problem.”

When putting together a package for pick-up, please remember the following two rules: They cannot accept any fresh, perishable food and they cannot accept any home baked goods either.

There is usually no contact with the public when the food is being picked up, but when the pamphlets are dropped off, that is when the interaction happens if people are there, because otherwise, the pamphlet just goes in the mail box.

Next on the list for the Salvation Army Food Bank is to get ready for the Christmas season, and plans are already underway. What does this mean? Christmas hampers, food drives, kettles, “And all the other things that mean Christmas in the Salvation Army,” said Weinberger.

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