The Veterans Food Bank is feeling the effects of the current economy and is appealing to Calgarians to come forward with cash and food donations.

Officials at the food back say the stock is very low and that the shelves have never been this bare.

“This is our worst year ever. At this point in time for the end of October we usually have enough on our shelves to at least start building our Christmas hampers. This year, as you can clearly see, we have hardly anything on the shelves and I kind of believe that most of it is due to our economy,” said Marie Blackburn, Manager Veterans Food Bank.

Many vets are also struggling to find work in Alberta and demand for hampers is up significantly.

“Historically in the past, we’ve usually sent out between 50, 60 hampers, so to give you an idea, for the month of September we sent 62, this year we sent out 114, so it’s basically doubled,” said Blackburn.

“We have younger vets coming back and they can’t find work. Traditionally they find work within the oil patch, oil patch isn’t hiring so we have a lot of vets that are in accessing the Veterans Food Bank, the numbers have almost doubled from last year, the shelves are bare and we’re in dire need of support,” said David Howard, President Canadian Legacy Project.

The food bank has even had to dig into cash donations to purchase food this year.

“We've only usually spent between, maybe $10,000, and we don’t spend that until the end of September, October. This year we started purchasing groceries in May and up to date now we’ve spent close to $50,000 purchasing items to keep the shelves stocked,” said Blackburn. “At this time of year, we definitely need the help.”

Blackburn says the goal is to assemble and distribute 350 hampers by Christmas.

“When a veteran comes in it takes everything in their pride to come in here and even get a hamper but once they arrive we can sometimes figure out what else they need,” she said.

The Canadian Legacy Project helps to support the food bank and on Thursday authorized staff to spend $10,000 to buy food so they can start building the Christmas Hampers.

“Just today we are moving forward with a $10,000 purchase of food to fill the shelves right now but we’re in desperate need,” said Howard.

The 10th annual Veterans Food Drive kicks off on Monday and Calgarians can drop off non-perishable food items and cash between November 1st  and 15th at:

  • Veterans Food Bank, located at 4539 6 Street N.E.
  • Any Royal Canadian Legion
  • Crown Surplus, located at 1005 11 Street S.E.
  • Aero Space Museum of Calgary, located at 4629 McCall Way NE.

Cash is also needed to purchase food gift-cards, which will go out with the food hampers.

For more information and to make a cash donation online, click HERE.