Calgary Co-op and transit hold 29th annual Stuff-A-Bus food drive

The food drive is a partnership between Calgary Co-op, Calgary Transit and local radio stations.

Food bank distributing around 400 hampers a day, up from 250 to 300 expected this time of the year

People filled buses with bags of non-perishable goods outside Co-op stores in Calgary on Saturday. (Helen Pike/CBC)

People filled nearly two dozen Calgary Transit buses with various non-perishable goods as part of a food drive for the Calgary Food Bank on Saturday.

The annual Stuff-A-Bus food drive is a partnership between Calgary Co-op, Calgary Transit and local radio stations. This year marked the 29th anniversary of the campaign, which aims to fill transit buses with food donations. In total, 21 buses were stationed outside Co-op grocery stores across the city.

The campaign is important both to collect food donations and raise awareness, said Morissa Villeneuve, community engagement supervisor with the Calgary Food Bank.

"It's a really important opportunity for us to get the community together to remind them that, you know, unfortunately, people are still experiencing food insecurity here in our city," she said, adding every donation goes a long way.

"When you see all 21 buses kind of pulling into the bus barns and the food that's coming off of it, you know that the impact that we've made today is amazing."

Morissa Villeneuve, community engagement supervisor with the Calgary Food Bank, says the Stuff-A-Bus campaign is important not just for collecting food donations, but for raising awareness about food insecurity in the city. (Helen Pike/CBC)

According to the Calgary Food Bank's website, the annual Stuff-A-Bus campaign has raised more than $30,000 and collected more than 33,000 kilograms of food since its inception.

"It is incredible to see how much participation has grown," Ken Keelor, CEO of Calgary Co-op, wrote in a statement. "We look forward to raising even more food and funds for those in need."

Increased demand

Villeneuve said the Calgary Food Bank has seen a marked increase in demand this year. 

The organization makes hampers containing a variety of food for those in need, and usually at this time of year, the team would be making 250 to 300 hampers a day, she said. Instead, it's distributing approximately 400 hampers a day.

"Unfortunately, that is quite an increase," said Villeneuve. "But we are seeing again the community rally in support."

In early November, Vibrant Communities Calgary, a non-profit that advocates for strategies that address poverty in the city, released a report that found several factors contributing to an increase in food prices. They include inflation, supply chain issues and, in Alberta, crop loss from a hot and dry summer.

"Hopefully nobody in our city will have to experience food insecurity because the Calgary Food Bank is here to help," said Villeneuve.

She said the food bank anticipates demand will increase even more over the holidays as temperatures get colder and heating bills rise.

For Calgarians who wish to donate, Villeneuve said some of the most needed items are canned tomatoes, peanut butter and canned vegetables. The food bank also accepts monetary donations through its website. 

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With files from Helen Pike


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