Calgary

Come join the fun as the CBC Calgary Food Bank Drive officially kicks off

The annual CBC Calgary Food Bank Drive officially kicked off Friday with lots of fun events to help raise $1 million before Christmas Eve — help that the food bank predicts it may need even more than in other years.

Lower oil prices expected to dent food bank's donations so help raise $1 million before Christmas

CBC Calgary staff pause for a photo while volunteering at the Calgary Food Bank on Dec. 1. The CBC Calgary Food Bank Drive officially kicked off Dec. 7. (CBC)

The annual CBC Calgary Food Bank Drive officially kicked off Friday with lots of fun events to help raise $1 million before Christmas Eve — help that the food bank predicts it may need even more than in other years.

It began with a bang as members of the public came down to join David Gray, Angela Knight and the entire Calgary Eyeopener crew at Fratello Coffee Roasters at 4021 Ninth St. S.E. from 6 to 8:30 a.m. on Friday. For $20, coffee lovers were able to get a bag of specially roasted Fratello coffee and a CBC coffee mug. More than 1,000 bags of coffee were generously donated by Fratello. 

  • Here are the other ways you can donate online or in person and take part in the fun with the CBC Calgary Food Bank Drive.
  • You can catch the latest tallies, photos and video from our fundraising campaign in the blog at the bottom of this story.

In past years, CBC Calgary's $1-million goal has been pretty much assured, due in large part to generous donations from energy companies and a robust economy.

But this year's campaign comes with no such guarantees, the food bank says, as Calgary is still working to pull itself out of the economic downturn.

And with the added pressure on the economy comes added pressure on the food bank. James McAra, CEO of the Calgary Food Bank, has been with the organization since 2000.

While he's constantly astounded by the generosity of Calgarians, he believes the low price of oil is going to have a noticeable impact on this year's campaign.

  • Not sure what to give to the food bank? Here's a hint: marinated octopus and decades-old Jello don't make the cut. Watch CBC Calgary's Jenny Howe break it down for us in the video below
CBC Calgary's 2018 Food Bank drive has the ambitious goal of raising $1 million before Christmas Eve. 2:09

"The combination of things this year is worse than we have ever seen, so it's really difficult to say I'm concerned or optimistic. It's the first time I've ever been so 50/50 on it," he said.

Changing face of food bank users

McAra says he's seen the profile of the typical food bank user change. In the mid-2000s, food bank usage was linked to migration — entire families would move to the province, hoping to get at least one good job and settle down.

But the higher cost of living caught a few people off-guard and they then reached out to the food bank.

Calgary Food Bank CEO James McAra says that while he's constantly astounded by the generosity of Calgarians, he believes the low price of oil is going to have a noticeable impact on this year's campaign. (Calgary Food Bank)

Today, 43 per cent of Calgary Food Bank clients are single people.

"We're seeing more individuals, from all age groups, are finding it more difficult to keep their costs contained," he said, adding a recent report found being single can add about 20 per cent to living costs.

"The jobs just aren't the same anymore," he said.

Up to 325 calls a day

McAra isn't the only one noticing a difference in the food bank's clientele.

Jody Schilbe, who works with volunteers in the call centre, says on average they receive between 275 and 325 calls a day, with Mondays and Fridays being the busiest.

Jody Schilbe, who works with volunteers at the food bank's call centre, says don't be afraid to reach out for help. 'There's no judgment about what your situation is.' (Meegan Read/CBC)

She said she remembers a recent difficult call from a man who reached out to the food bank.

"He was very distraught. He was actually in tears because he just could not believe that his life had come to the point where he would actually have to use the assistance of the food bank," she said,

Schilbe says there is no judgment at the Calgary Food Bank. The organization exists to provide emergency food support for people who are in need of a little help —  and the entire hamper process is completely confidential.

"Don't be afraid," she said. "We're here to help. There's no judgment about what your situation is."

More than a million kg of food

Since its inception in 1985, the CBC Calgary campaign has raised more than $19 million to help feed hungry Calgarians.

  • Here's another great way to get into the holiday spirit of giving — create a reverse advent calendar. CBC's food columnist Julie Van Rosendaal shows us how

Last year, the CBC Calgary Food Bank drive raised $1.4 million.

This helped supply more than a million kilograms of food to 35 food banks in Alberta and across the county.

Join CBC Calgary at these events

If you couldn't make it to the event at Fratello on Friday morning, don't worry — there are many other opportunities to join the fun during the CBC Calgary Food Bank Drive.

  • You can meet Angela Knight of the Calgary Eyeopener and finish up your last minute Christmas shopping at the One Gray Knight Coffee event on Dec. 12 at 6 p.m. at Analog Coffee in Southcentre Mall, or on Dec. 18 from 6 a.m.-1 p.m. at Peloton Computer Enterprises.
  • Or snuggle up with cute pooches when we partner up with the Animal Rescue Foundation for Puppy Paw-looza on Dec. 14 from 7 a.m.- 8:30 a.m. at Arcurve Inc. 
  • For a live broadcast with great local live music, join Doug Dirks, Jenny Howe and the rest of the Homestretch team on Dec. 14  at the CBC Jam for the Food Bank at the Ironwood Stage & Grill from 3 to 6 p.m.
  • And on Dec. 20, we'll go all out all day with Blitz Day from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. at CBC Calgary (1000 Veteran's Place N.W.), with live broadcasts of the Calgary Eyeopener, Alberta@Noon and the Homestretch from our lobby.

For details on all these fundraising events and many more, check out the full list.

You can also donate online any time or in person at the following locations:

CBC Calgary (1000 Veteran's Place N.W.):

  • Dec. 7-23: Weekdays 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Dec. 7-23: Weekends 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Dec. 24: 7 a.m. to noon.

Suncor Energy Centre (150 - 6 Ave. S.W.):

  • Dec. 3-7: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.​
  • Dec. 10-14, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Fifth Avenue Place (420 - 2 St.S.W.):

  • Dec. 10, 11, 17-19: 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

​And you can follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for the latest Food Bank Drive news and numbers. Don't forget to use #cbcfeedsyyc so we can follow your fundraising efforts.

  • On mobile? Get the latest fundraising tally, photos and video from CBC Calgary's Food Bank Drive in our live blog here.

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