Burn the mortgage

Mix two guest speakers with a macaroni and cheese luncheon and 800 diners and you get a $100,000 wind-fall for the Red Deer Food Bank.

Members of the 24 Red Deer Royal Canadian Air Cadets  get set to enjoy their meal at the Red Deer Food Bank Mac and Cheese Luncheon on Monday.

Members of the 24 Red Deer Royal Canadian Air Cadets get set to enjoy their meal at the Red Deer Food Bank Mac and Cheese Luncheon on Monday.

Mix two guest speakers with a macaroni and cheese luncheon and 800 diners and you get a $100,000 wind-fall for the Red Deer Food Bank.

“It’s amazing. I’m gratified and overwhelmed,” said the food bank’s executive-director Fred Scaife, at news that proceeds from Monday’s Gourmet Mac and Cheese charity luncheon paid off the food bank’s $60,000 mortgage and contributed at least $40,000 towards food for needy clients.

The money couldn’t have come at a better time, said Scaife, since food bank usage has climbed drastically in the last year.

Statistics show the organization gave out 626 hampers last month, compared to 313 in August 2008. During the same period, 825 adults and 684 children received help from the food bank, compared to 288 and 401 a year ago.

So far, Scaife estimates an overall client increase of 75 per cent from the same time last year.

While food bank usage had dropped 15 to 18 per cent during the last few boom years, the latest jump in clients “is still up 60 per cent from our worst years,” Scaife added.

And it’s not just oilfield workers who are affected by the economic downturn. He said, “it’s the janitor who works for oilfield companies, and the young person who can’t get an entry-level job, the waitress” who has less tips because she has fewer clients. “It’s very complex.”

The first-annual charitable luncheon was supported by local businesses that paid $1,000 for an eight-seat table at the Capri Centre.

The benefit was initiated by local businessman Ray McBeth, who was inspired by similar fundraisers in other communities.

McBeth organized a committee, which lined up event sponsors and recruited two engaging guest speakers for the benefit; former Chief of Canada’s Defence Staff Gen. Rick Hillier, and Master Cpl. Paul Franklin, a medic who made a heroic comeback after getting both legs blown off in Afghanistan.

Franklin, who was severely injured by a 2006 suicide bomb blast that killed Canadian diplomat, Glyn Berry, said he was glad to be able to give back to an organization that helped many soldiers during their poorly paid days in the 1990s.

At one point, he compared the role of food banks in Canada to the role of soldiers in Afghanistan; both are trying to nourish and sustain a population in need.

“We’re hoping that hunger will disappear in Canada, and we’re dealing with much the same issues in Afghanistan . . . There’s a good parallel there,” said Franklin, who had, earlier in the day, spoken in support of the role of Canadian soldiers there.

While the parents of a Quebec soldier who was recently killed said their son did not believe in the mission, Franklin and Hillier both felt otherwise.

Hillier said he would never stop a bereaved family from saying whatever they wanted; “They have earned that right.” But he believes the Afghan war can achieve its goal with the help of more international soldiers, a stronger commitment from the U.S., and a renewed focus on helping reconstruction in Afghanistan, while also helping neighbouring Pakistan deal with its extremist problem.

The war doesn’t have the same defeat-the-enemy aim as World War II, said Hillier. “We want to give (Afghans) the capability of governing their own country, so they are not held hostage by the Taliban,”

In that vein, Franklin said, “I wouldn’t say (the war) is winnable. I would say it’s do-able.”

Why is it worth doing? The guest speakers showed a slide of an Afghan woman being executed for been seen with a male she wasn’t related to. They showed pictures of Afghan children with limbs missing from land mine explosions, and skin conditions that could be eradicated with proper medication.

One Afghan boy was shown with bare feet as thick snow covered the ground.

Hillier said Canadian soldiers are often greeted by village children who use their fingers to scrawl on their palms — a sign that they want to learn to read and write.

The Mac and Cheese event was sponsored by the Capri, Black Knight Inn, TD Bank, Sutter Fund, and various service and media organizations. Organizers say they would like to make it an annual luncheon.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

AstraZeneca vaccine is ready to be used at a homeless shelter in Romford, east London, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Frank Augstein
Select Alberta physicians to begin offering COVID-19 vaccine next week

Some Alberta physicians will now be offering the COVID-19 vaccine. In an… Continue reading

An example of zero lot line properties. Red Deer County council approved rezoning to allow zero lot line properties on three streets in Springbrook.
Photo from Red Deer County
Narrower house lots being tested in Springbrook to improve affordability

Zero lot line homes will be built on three streets in Springbrook

Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair listens to a speaker during a news conference Tuesday June 9, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Red Deer part of project to support victims of human trafficking

Federal government sends $500k over next four to Alberta-based project

Mayzie the Canada goose is back nesting in a flower pot on a backyard balcony in Anders on the Lake. (Contributed)
Canada goose is back nesting on Red Deer balcony

Third year in a row geese return

FILE - Conor McGregor poses during a ceremonial weigh-in for the UFC 246 mixed martial arts bout in Las Vegas, in this Friday, Jan. 17, 2020, file photo. The UFC intends to welcome a capacity crowd at Las Vegas' T-Mobile Arena on July 10, 2021, when Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor fight for the third time. UFC President Dana White announced his plan Wednesday, April 14, 2021, for the promotion's first sellout show in its hometown since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.(AP Photo/John Locher, File)
UFC plans full Vegas crowd in July at Poirier-McGregor fight

The UFC intends to welcome a capacity crowd at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile… Continue reading

Juno Awards signage hangs in downtown Saskatoon on Thursday, March 12, 2020. Organizers of the Juno Awards say they've postponed this year's 50th-anniversary celebration until June 6 "out of an abundance of caution in response to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic." THE CANADIAN PRESS/Matt Smith
Juno Awards postpone 50th anniversary show date to June 6 amid COVID-19 pandemic

TORONTO — Organizers of the Juno Awards say they’re postponing this year’s… Continue reading

Infrastructure and Communities Minister Catherine McKenna rises in the House of Commons following Question Period Monday March 22, 2021 in Ottawa. McKenna is announcing a $1.5-billion program designed to spur green building through retrofits, upgrades and new construction. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal government unveils $1.5-billion plan to boost green building

OTTAWA — Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna has announced a $1.5-billion program designed… Continue reading

In this Monday, March 15, 2021 file photo a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is pictured in a pharmacy in Boulogne Billancourt, outside Paris.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Christophe Ena, File
AstraZeneca very safe, effective, with extremely rare risk of clots: Health Canada

OTTAWA — There is enough evidence to say the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine may… Continue reading

Demonstrators take cover from crowd-dispersal munitions from police outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department while protesting the shooting death of Daunte Wright, late Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Brooklyn Center, Minn. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Minnesota cop will be charged in shooting of Black motorist

BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. — A prosecutor said Wednesday that he will charge… Continue reading

Families, Children and Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen listens to a question during a news conference Tuesday April 21, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Housing advocates eye federal budget for aid to urban Indigenous providers

OTTAWA — The Trudeau Liberals have told stakeholders in the affordable-housing sector… Continue reading

Two women lay flowers outside Windsor Castle in Windsor, England, Tuesday, April 13, 2021. Britain's Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, died Friday April 9 aged 99. His funeral service will take place on Saturday at Windsor Castle. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Queen returns to royal duties after death of Prince Philip

LONDON — Queen Elizabeth II has returned to royal duties, four days… Continue reading

The mobile phone icon for the Coinbase app is shown in this photo, in New York, Tuesday, April 13, 2021. Coinbase is going public at a time when chatter about cryptocurrencies is everywhere, even at the United States Federal Reserve. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Coinbase soars in market debut, valued near $100 billion

Coinbase made a rousing debut on Wall Street Wednesday, with the digital… Continue reading

Most Read