In the year that 2020 has been, we are all doing our best to support local non-profits and businesses to help everyone keep our heads above water. Seeing how we can all pull together to make a difference in small ways that add up to big ways gives us hope for the future.
Food banks have become a critical part of how we help people who are struggling locally by getting food to families when they need it. But in our work with the Food Banks Alberta, we’ve seen how much more food banks do than just collect and distribute food to those who need it. As part of our work with Food Banks Alberta, we’ve attended two of their annual, provincial conferences and seen presentations from many food banks about the programs they organize to make a difference across the province.
Even the smallest food banks require a level of organization, space, and volunteers that is truly inspiring. Their mission is to be a stop-gap for people in a difficult position and not a permanent solution. They work really hard to connect people to services and organizations that work to help people improve their situation.
Food banks also care a great deal about nutrition and provide much more than just pasta and canned soup. Many food banks teach cooking classes with foods that are commonly available at their locations. They run hot lunch programs and food distributions through schools. They partner with grocery stores to get a range of foods including meat, dairy, breads, and fresh vegetables as well as dry goods.
Our work with Food Banks Alberta has been to help create documentation that works for the umbrella organization, but also for food banks across the province. I’ve worked on multiple projects with them including Governance, Human Resources, and Operational manuals. These are now available as templates to member food banks to save them time making their own versions from scratch.
A critical part of our work with Food Banks Alberta is their emphasis on collaborative project development and review. Because FBA represents food banks across the province, it is important to consider each of our projects from the perspective of several audiences by asking ourselves will this work for small, volunteer-run food banks only open a few days a week; medium ones with larger facilities; and the large city food banks that have multiple locations. With each project, we were connected to representatives from a variety of food banks across the province of different sizes.
This level of collaboration created final projects that could serve the needs of as many food banks as possible. This kind of collaboration and feedback is really rewarding as a writer. It helps me to create documents that are driven by the intended audience and more likely to be useful and customized to food banks.
The collaboration has also given me insight into the variety of challenges, solutions, and programs across Alberta. I’ve been lucky to visit a dozen or so food banks from the large city locations to small town sites. All of them are full of dedicated people who believe in supporting their communities, big or small.
We encourage you to consider donating to your local food bank now or when you can. You can also donate your time. I volunteer at the food bank closest to my house where I sort bins full food onto the organized shelves. As a writer who sits at a desk all day, I find it nice to get away from my laptop and hang out in the warehouse, plug in some podcasts, and sort food.
When you donate food, money, or time to the food banks, you will be making a difference.
Annette has been working as a writer for nearly 25 years and an instructor for 12 years. She has worked with a variety of not-for-profit organizations supporting them with governance and policy writing and instructional design with presentations and education. Contact us to book Annette or one of our other team members to work with you to create or update your policy and procedures or your educational projects.