The attention of the community is being brought towards the Sylvan Lake Food Bank this week in light of National Hunger Awareness week.
Founded in 1987 by two Sylvan Lake women who would personally buy food for those struggling to make ends meet and hand deliver it, the local food bank has since become a hub of community support and an important resource for more than 200 families each year.
In 2014 the Sylvan Lake Food Bank, which is run out of the basement of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, assisted 222 families over the months, distributing 625 hampers of food. Of those 222 families, 135 of them were single parent households.
Pam Towers, who operates the food bank in conjunction with Olga Horaska and a group of dedicated volunteers said food banks across the country have changed greatly over the years in terms of usage and reasons for residents having to use them.
What hasn’t changed over the years according to Towers is the level of support the community has provided the food bank with.
“The community of Sylvan Lake is an amazing place – it’s been really incredible to watch the support people offer to one another and help them out in their times of need,” said Towers. “I never get used to the overwhelming support the food bank has experienced from residents, it touches your heart.”
She added the food bank has become more than just a place for those struggling to make ends meet – the food bank is a way to show there are people in the community who care about them.
“We care – we don’t want to see people not having enough to eat and we want them to know there are other people in the community who love them and care about them,”
“If you look at our society, our culture, our economy – nothing is as stable as it used to be,
“We don’t have the family support systems we used to have, gone are the days where you move down the street from your mom and dad, people are coming and living in our community from across Canada and the world and many of these people don’t have family here to help them through tough times.”
She added the local food bank is unique amongothers across the province in that they are nearly self sustaining, receiving only a small pool of money from the Alberta Food Bank Network. This leaves the organization depending on the support of the community for food and cash donations to remain operable.
“We are incredibly well supported by the local grocery stores,” explained Towers. “Each week we have some one who goes around and picks up stock from the stores which they have donated to us and it really is just overwhelming the amount of support we get.”
On a regular basis the most needed food donations is baby food in jars, as well as cereal, soup, rice, canned meats and vegetables, pasta sauce and pasta, peanut butter, and beans.
This year’s annual Scout and Girl Guides food drive will take place on Oct. 8th beginning at 6 p.m. with members of the two organizations going door to door gathering donations.
Towers wished to thank volunteers Frank and Vonda Steckler, Shirley and Dale Mannix, Ivan and Marie Jensen, Valerie Steckler, Diane Worth, Randi Scheffelmaier, and Donna Ellerby for all of their hard work.