May 4, 2021
A little over thirteen months ago, a worldwide pandemic changed most of our lives dramatically. While we are all adapting and trying to be resilient, a year in, there’s still a lot of need in the city.
Over the last 12 months, Calgary Co-op has been working with local community groups and agencies to get help during this uncertain time through Calgary Co-op Cares.
Until May 15th, Calgary Co-op will be matching donations up to $25,000 through Calgary Co-op Cares. Funding will support local charities: the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter, Calgary Seniors’ Resource Society, Calgary Food Bank, Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids, Meals on Wheels and The Mustard Seed, as well as three regional charities in the surrounding area: Wheatland County Food Bank, Airdrie Food bank and the High River Salvation Army Food Bank.
“We’ve seen the need grow and shift over the course of the last 12-plus months,” says Sage Pullen McIntosh, Communications Director, Calgary Co-op. “Food security remains a concern in our community. Our members and team members care about those in need and we are working together to ensure our neighbours in need have access to nutritious food.”
“Donating just two dollars can help provide a meal; whether to a child who’s come to school hungry, or supper for a senior. Every dollar donated goes directly to the charities we’re supporting.”
There are a number of ways to help, either by donating at the till in our food and convenience stores, purchasing food for the food bank and placing it in store food bins, or donating online.
Members can choose where to have their donation sent, or simply donate and Calgary Co-op will divide up the total funds among each of the charities, many of whom have had to deal not just with a drop in donations, but finding new ways to operate.
“It used to be clients could come in and wait in our lobby and then they could pick out their food, but we had to totally revamp our whole building to ensure that we had adequate social distancing,” recalls Avaleen Streeton, Food Industry Coordinator with the Calgary Food Bank. “It's a total drive through model now. At the same time, we had to reduce our number of volunteers and split our staff into two isolated shifts so if someone on one of the teams did contract COVID, we could still support Calgarians. It’s gone really well, but it was a bit of a challenge!”
BB4CK, or Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids has also made some significant pivots in response to the pandemic. Realizing early on that giving out lunches and snacks through schools was not an option when schools closed early in the pandemic, the organization created a whole new way to help.
“Working with our school partners, we were able to get the word out to families that we support is available,” Bethany Ross, Director of Operations for Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids explains. Calgary Co-op also opened up some of its community kitchens so our volunteers could make lunches and have them delivered to schools every week.”
It’s so important to remember that the need often increases during challenging times such as a pandemic,” says Pullen McIntosh. “We are so grateful to our members, team members and vendors for their generosity. They give even when it’s tough and that is what makes our community so strong."
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