August, 2016 - In partnership with Alberta Food Banks, Pembina has launched its Fresh Food Fund, a grant program which provides funds for rural food banks to purchase fresh, healthy, and local food items.
Pembina has a long history of supporting critical social services like food banks to make sure that members of our communities stay healthy, and over the past couple of years have supported individual food banks across the province, including Swan Hills, Airdrie, Drayton Valley, Redwater, Calgary and Medicine Hat. However, in Alberta food bank usage rates have increased by 23% since March of 2015. Last year alone, 66 food banks across Alberta served a record-setting 68,000 people, and more than 44% of people using the food bank were families with children. Those numbers are anticipated to increase in 2016 with the continued downscaling in the oil & gas industry, as well as the expiry of EI benefits for those who were impacted last year.
Over the last few months it’s been clear that there is a need for increased support of local food banks, and that this is a growing problem that needs to be addressed on a larger scale. Pembina has recently been approached for donations several times by food banks in our local operating areas, as well as by Field Managers and employees who are keen to support their community during these hard economic times.
Through conversations with both the Alberta Food Bank Association, as well as many food banks within our operating areas, we have also learned that although food banks are still receiving some non-perishable food items, there is a significant need for fresh, healthy food. Many people accessing the food bank are under significant stress and food that is highly processed and high in sodium and sugar, can lead to further negative health impacts.
This is why we've partnered with the Alberta Food Bank Association to create Pembina’s Fresh Food Fund, which will help ensure that communities across the province have access to nutritious food, including fresh dairy, protein, fruits and vegetables.
Stephanie Rigby, Executive Director of Alberta Food Banks, explains that, "although many food banks are still receiving donations of non-perishable items, there is a significant need for fresh, healthy food."
Tasha Cadotte and Clint Walker from Pembina were on hand at the Alberta Food Banks’ Annual General Meeting to announce Pembina’s grant program, and to present the Hinton Food Bank with the first Fresh Food grant.