The Fort Saskatchewan Food Gatherers Society aims to distribute food & food related products to those in need. The Society operates a Food Bank within the City of Fort Saskatchewan, and is manned entirely by volunteers.
Food hampers are filled with staple items & supplemented with fresh fruit & vegetables. Food & toy hampers are distributed at Christmas to families in need, as well as several children's homes & shelters. The Society also administers a school snack program to address the needs of children coming to school hungry. This program is operated within the elementary & junior high schools in Fort Saskatchewan.
The Food Bank first began in response to a community need at Christmas; providing to families that needed some extra supplies (food and toys) for a happy holiday. At the start, all of the goods and cash donated were used to fund this Christmas campaign, with only a minimal amount kept for the next year’s Christmas hamper start-up.
After several years, it became obvious that need was not just at Christmas, but ongoing throughout the entire year. About this time, Father Floyd from Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church approached the Catholic Women's League about organizing a food bank. It was a simple program back then, with 4 – 5 people helping out from all denominations, and was located at Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church.
In May 1985, representatives from the Food Bank group, the Christmas Hamper group, the Ministerial Association and City of Fort Saskatchewan met and formed the Fort Saskatchewan Food Gatherers Society. This group realized the need and thought they could use the annual Christmas hamper Campaign to raise funds and provide food, not only for Christmas, but for the remainder of the year. The excess food and cash from the Christmas hamper Campaign was used to operate the Food Bank during the year, thus providing for those in need on a continual basis.
From 1984 until October 1992, the Food Bank was located in a space donated by Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Church. Since then, we have been located in a small building in the downtown area of Fort Saskatchewan. The location is perfect – quiet and yet very accessible. One drawback to this location is that it does not allow for expansion and we have outgrown the space.
One of the greatest satisfactions that comes from this job is when we receive a letter of thanks for the difference that we have made. Quite often people who may need a hamper this year will donate or volunteer their time at a future date to “pay” back what they received.