A new location for the Blackfalds Food Bank — which will soon include a community kitchen — is helping the food bank to expand its programs.
In December 2020, the food bank moved into a former fire hall. That site is now known as Beyond Food Community Hub.
Executive director Karie Ackermann said the Town of Blackfalds donated the building for 15 years which is much bigger than the food bank’s former space. MEGlobal has also donated $100,000 for the MEGlobal Community Kitchen which will be constructed this fall.
“Moving our food bank to this facility allows us to tackle food insecurity in a whole different way we’ve never been able to. That’s why we decided to rebrand as well, to go from a food bank to Beyond Food Community Hub, where we provide additional programming than just an emergency food hamper,” Ackermann said.
She said MEGlobal is making the community kitchen a reality much sooner than expected, and Blackfalds may be the only small community in Alberta to have a community kitchen. The plan is to provide programming for everyone, regardless of financial status, to make it part of the broader community.
“It will allow us to do programming to teach children how to cook, all the way up to cooking meals on a budget, to seniors and multi-cultural cooking. You name it, we’re going to try and tackle it.”
Programs will also be geared to food bank clients, she said.
“A hardy soup can easily be made by the food with the things we’re providing in the hampers, but if you don’t know how to cook something, it’s going to waste.”
She said the community kitchen should be operational by late fall early or winter.
Currently about 60 families receive monthly food hampers, and a lunch box program that started when students turned to online learning during the pandemic, which is definitely filling a need in the community, she said.
“The lunch box program started feeding 30 kids a week. Now we’re at 160 kids a week.”
Ackermann said the pandemic showed that there are lot of people in Blackfalds, and other communities, that live paycheque to paycheque and food insecurity is their reality.