An expanded connection between the Red Deer Food Bank and The Mustard Seed is being facilitated by Westerner Park. From left is Byron Bradley, managing director of the local Mustard Seed, Mike Olesen, executive director of Westerner Park, and deputy food bank director Alice Kolisnyk. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Expected poverty spike is spurring a new partnership between Red Deer Food Bank and The Mustard Seed

Westerner Park depot will produce more food hampers

Many central Albertans are expected to run out of relief money before they can return to work — and this anticipated spike in need is spurring a new partnership between three Red Deer non-profit groups.

The Red Deer Food Bank Society and The Mustard Seed announced Wednesday they will soon be jointly opening a satellite hamper-packing depot in donated space at Westerner Park.

This will allow for more food packages to be made up and delivered to local families in financial straits, said Alice Kolisnyk, deputy director of the food bank.

“We do anticipate a spike in demand as emergency funding runs out for some people who cannot yet go back to work. We’re anticipating a dramatic increase in need,” she added.

By partnering with the food bank, The Mustard Seed can help meet this expected increased demand, said Byron Bradley, the agency’s central Alberta managing director.

He added, “We know that food security is most important in these unprecedented times.”

Bradley’s Christian non-profit provides a variety of supports, including housing, “wellness services” and employment programs to struggling people.

Kolisnyk said area residents who need help will still have to apply, as usual, at the existing food bank outlet in north Red Deer. No members of the public will be admitted to the new satellite outlet operating at Westerner Park.

But staff and volunteers of the food bank and The Mustard Seed can store more perishable donations in fridges at Westerner Park, which has had to cancel virtually all scheduled events because of public gathering rules to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

And more space will be available there for food storage and hamper packing.

Mike Olesen, executive director of Westerner Park, said it’s important that the exhibition society continues connecting with the community and providing support during the pandemic.

The partnreship was made possible with $300,000 of provincial Family Community and Support Services funding that was made available through the City of Red Deer.

Bradley said the groups are “thrilled” to have the city and province’s support in this effort. He added the funds will go toward the cost of making up and delivering the hampers.

When the money runs out, he hopes to keep the effort going with community donations.

Anyone who wants to donate non-perishable food, or personal hygiene or other household items, can find needed items on the food bank and The Mustard Seed’s websites.



lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

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