Edmonton Food Bank
Canadas first food bank was established in Edmonton in 1981, and since then, more than 650
similar organizations have surfaced across Canada, all modeled to some degree on Edmontons prototype.
According to the 2004 annual report of the Edmonton Gleaners AssociationEdmonton
Food Banks founding and operating body14,000 people are fed each month in the hamper program through
35 depots. In all, the Food Bank network exceeds 140 agencies, churches and food depots. Another 250,000
meals and snacks find their way to Edmontons hungry each month.
Food is provided through a combination of citizen and corporate donations, purchases,
food drives, volunteer gardens and fundraising. Volunteers function as support staff and special events
organizers, offering between 30,000-50,000 hours annually.
But the food bank movement is more than just the provision of food to those in want.
"By the mid-1990s," writes Kathryn A. Ivany, in her 2001 history of Edmontons Food
Bank, Sharing the Harvest, "both American and Canadian gleaning organizations were taking stronger
advocacy roles on behalf of the people they help feed. Their efforts stretched to include education of the
general public about poverty and food security issues as well as education of their clients about how to
access the programs from which they were entitled to receive assistance and how to meet their nutritional
needs more effectively."
In 1986, the Canadian Association of Food Banks (CAFB) was formed, with 43 food banks
from nine provinces accepted as members at the first meeting in November 1989. This association places a
value of $4.40 on each kilogram of food donated to a food bank. By this yardstick, then, over $12.5 million
of food and food-related products were distributed by Edmontons Food Bank in 2004.
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