The single-largest grocery drive of the year is about to kick off, and anyone connected with St. Albert Food Bank will tell you the need has never been greater.
“It varies from year-to-year, and it all depends on the economy. This year we’re all worried. Some people Suzan (Krecsy) at the food bank meets are working, but just can’t make ends meet. Some years it’s like Christmas, but because the cost of groceries is so high, it may be a lean year. I hope not, but it may be,” said Marian Rochford.
The annual Red Willow Community Church drive for the St. Albert food started more than 35 years ago, and Rochford has participated since 2003. In 2015, she took on the role of food drive coordinator. By 2022, the city-wide church drive successfully collected more than 31,000 kilograms of food.
As coordinator, Rochford has ordered 25,000 brown paper bags that will be delivered to homes throughout St. Albert. Homeowners are requested to fill the bags with groceries and leave them on their front doorstep on Saturday, Sept. 16 before 9 a.m.
Rochford has prepared a city map divided into 100 pickup routes. However, she needs an additional 70 volunteers to fill 35 routes. Usually, routes are handled by teams – a driver in a car and one or more runners spotting and picking up brown bags filled with donated groceries.
“Our volunteers are usually half from the church and half from the community. We provide maps for them and a lunch — pizza, water, a treat bag and a T-shirt identifying us as part of the food bank drive.”
Once food is loaded onto vehicles, it is driven straight to St. Albert Food Bank on Bellerose Drive, where volunteer families of all ages help unload bags of groceries.
“There’s a sense of joy and camaraderie. Everyone pitches in. You have a single purpose and it benefits people. The reward is doing something for the community.”
The cost for bags, 600 T-shirts and food are covered by the church. Rochford estimates the church invests $15,000 in the venture.
“We try to take the burden off the food bank. We don’t want to dig into their funds, so we absorb the cost of the drive.”
Prospective volunteers can email a request for a route to [email protected] or they can contact Rochford at 780-995-1654.
RCMP food drive
On a side note, St. Albert RCMP hosted Stuff a Cruiser on Wednesday, Aug. 23 to restock shelves at St. Albert Food Bank. The fundraiser was held at Superstore, and generated $1,170 in cash donations and 535 pounds of non-perishable food.
“We appreciate everyone who generously donated to make this event a success. As the unprecedented demand for our food bank grows, our community continues to step up and support those in need,” said Cpl. Morgan Kyle.