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Calgary police 'Cram-a-Cruiser' for the food bank


The Calgary Police Service partnered with the Calgary Food Bank on Tuesday to fill a police cruiser with food, personal hygiene items and cash as part of the annual 'Cram-a-Cruiser' event.

"Inflation and rising food prices are a concern for anyone, so any donations we can gather will help support the food bank," said Sgt. Trent Barker Petersen.

"We're hoping to fill the entire police van and to exceed 500 kilograms of food donations."

Melissa From, CEO of the Calgary Food Bank says about 100,000 unique visitors relied on their services last year, and between 650 to 700 Calgary households are coming through the food bank's parking lot every day to pick up emergency food hampers. 

"It's a perfect storm," From said. "In the City of Calgary, we've seen increases in our population, so just based on sheer numbers, we're going to see increases in those in need."

"There's also some expenses that have a bit more 'give and take' than others," she added.

"The cost of housing, the cost of heating your home – some of those things – and by the time folks pay all those bills, there's just not enough left at the end of the day to pay for their food."

From says the spring season is typically when the Calgary Food Bank most needs support following larger contributions that are received during the fall and winter moths.

"I did a walk through our distribution warehouse yesterday with a donor and I was nervous, actually, looking at how empty our shelves are right now," she said.

"There maybe was a time in our history where all of those foods and funds that were raised in that fourth quarter of the year were enough to get us through, but it sure isn't anymore."

From says the organization is able to stretch cash donations, using a single dollar to get $3.50 worth of food, thanks to corporate partnerships. 

The organization's wish list for May includes peanut butter, canned beans, cereal, pasta and pasta sauces, canned tomatoes and canned meat.

Baby items including diapers and formula.

The food bank estimates babies will use more than 2,500 diapers during their first year, costing up to $1,200 depending on the brand. 

In 2023, over 22,000 baby hampers were distributed to families through our emergency hamper program.  

Food prices cooling

According to Second Harvest, Canada's largest food rescue organization, the demand for food banks across the country is expected to increase by 18 per cent this year.

A report released on Feb. 27 says that translates to more than one million Canadians accessing food charity programs for the first time in 2024.

The report suggests overall food prices are expected to increase by as much as 4.5 per cent in 2024, representing an additional $701.79 for a family of four compared to last year. 

Though food prices are expected to climb, the rate at which they are increasing has slowed, according to Statistics Canada.

In March 2024, grocery inflation increased by 1.9 per cent year-over-year.  

That's down from February's annual rate of 2.4 per cent and a far cry from the peak of grocery inflation at 11.4 per cent in late 2022 and early 2023.

Stuart Smyth, professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and the University of Saskatchewan, says the recent federal carbon tax increase should see prices increase.

"Certainly, any time food is transported, whether it's to a food processing plant or from the processors to wholesalers or vice-versa, that increase in the carbon tax is going to raise the cost of transporting food," Smyth said.

"So, when the April numbers come out a little bit later in May, it'll be interesting to see whether that downward trend from February to March is continued, but we would expect the carbon tax to have a negative effect on that downward trend."

Meanwhile, some consumers are so fed up with increasing grocery prices that an online movement has sparked encouraging shoppers to boycott big box stores like Loblaws.

Smyth says the list of demand from protesters include a 15 per cent reduction in food prices, which is completely unrealistic.

"To me, that just signals that this is a rage of frustration protest and there's nothing credible behind it because no company in any sector of our economy could automatically reduce prices of products by 15 per cent," he said.

"These retailers are into multi-month-long term contracts in purchasing things, and they simply can't go in and break the contracts to purchase things three to six months down the road unless they want to get taken to court."

Smyth notes that instead many big box stores are looking into ways to cut their costs through the use of self-checkouts and cutting overnight shifts by stocking shelves during the day. Top Stories

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