News Release

Food Drives Thrive in Canada

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have always been counselled to assist others and engage in their communities. Here are some recent examples of how Latter-day Saints across Canada are helping those who lack food and other basic necessities.

Winnipeg, Manitoba

Fourteen years ago, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints started an annual food drive to benefit Winnipeg Harvest, a community-based food distribution and training centre. This year, the food drive was co-organized by members of the Church and the Manitoba Islamic Association, creating the city’s first multi-faith food drive. Invitations asking for contributions were hand-delivered to 65,000 city households.

Latter-day Saint and Manitoba Islamic Association volunteers picked up the food on a subsequent Saturday. Over 86,500 pounds of food were collected and matched by Peak of the Market food stores for a total of 173,000 pounds. Multiple semi-trailers delivered the food to Winnipeg Harvest, which supplies food banks throughout the city. In addition, $30,000 from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was donated to purchase additional groceries.

Calgary, Alberta

Church members from Calgary, Airdrie and several surrounding communities combined efforts for the annual area-wide food drive in September, collecting over 514,000 pounds of food. More than 7,000 volunteers worked to collect donations from 196 neighbourhoods, enabling the Calgary Food Bank to meet 18 per cent of 2019’s expected needs in one day. Last year, the food bank distributed over 2.5 million pounds of food to benefit a city of 1.3 million people.

A community participant, David Chong, 77, lent a helping hand after receiving an invitation from the Latter-day Saint missionaries. Throughout the day, Chong repeated, “This is unbelievable. I’ve never seen anything like this. I’m going to share this with my Chinese community.”

Tracey Bonner, a Calgary Food Bank staff member, added, “I see people serving that I didn’t expect to see, like families and the elderly. It’s really amazing to see parents modelling this type of service for their children.”

Airdrie, a community near Banff, collected 32,000 pounds of food, surpassing last year’s collection. Carolyn Geertsen of the Airdrie Food Bank said, “The food gathered will stock the shelves and get us through the Christmas season. … We could not manage without this kind of support.”

Edmonton, Alberta

The Edmonton food drive, organized by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is the largest food drive of the year for the Edmonton Food Bank. Each month, the food bank serves over 20,000 people in a community of just under one million.

Thousands of Edmonton-area Latter-day Saints volunteered, first delivering donation bags to all the single-family homes before the drive, then collecting the non-perishable food items on the morning of the drive.

Over the nine years the citywide food drive has taken place, more than one million pounds of food has been gathered. This year, over 246,500 pounds were donated in Edmonton and over 123,500 pounds in the other communities, totalling over 370,000 pounds.

“This food drive is vital in stocking our shelves each fall,” says Marjorie Bencz, Edmonton Food Bank executive director. “The need for food in Edmonton continues to be high, and we need the help of the community to help people in need.”

On the same day, other communities in the Edmonton region participated, including Sherwood Park, Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Red Deer, Fort McMurray, Beaumont and Innisfail. Those donations went to the various food banks in those communities.

Edmonton food drive spokesperson Chantelle McMullin said, “Jesus Christ taught us to feed His sheep. We believe that besides feeding all people spiritually, physically feeding them is also important.”

Oshawa, Ontario

In conjunction with national Hunger Action Month in September, congregations of the Oshawa Ontario Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held their seventh annual community food drive.

Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter and regional chair John Henry were among the following other municipal and regional government leaders who dropped off bags of food to the Oshawa location: Whitby Deputy Mayor Rhonda Mulcahy, Councillor Deidre Newman (Whitby West Ward 2), Councillor Maleeha Shahid (Whitby East Ward 4), member of provincial parliament Jennifer French (Oshawa) and Councillor Bob Chapman (Oshawa Ward 3). They joined food drive co-ordinators Patricia Clarke and Laurie Chambers, Bishop Steven Ernstberger of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Lisa Whitsitt, Oshawa Ontario Stake public affairs director.

This year, 3,900 pounds of non-perishable food was collected from the Oshawa–Whitby area and donated to the Durham College Students Inc. Outreach Centre. The food assists students who attend Durham College and Ontario Tech University and families who frequent Willow Park Co-Operative Homes Food Bank.

Other local Church congregations participated and donated food to support their local food banks: Peterborough — Kawartha Food Share; Pickering — Salvation Army; and Bowmanville — St. Vincent de Paul (St. Joseph’s Catholic Church). The food banks were appreciative of the added supplies, which will assist those who face food insecurity in the months ahead.

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