Smoky River region is planning to form an independent food bank created to service just its residents in early fall.
The region is currently part of the High Prairie and District Food Bank, however; with increased demand in the Smoky River area, it’s become clear that the two forces need to separate to best support the individual communities.
“When COVID hit we started getting a lot of support and people were inquiring if the food was staying in the region,” explains Smoky River Family and Community Support Services director Crystal Tremblay, who is helping to spearhead the formulation of a new food bank board for the region.
“We have a board that has been established that has been spearheaded by FCSS to get the Smoky River Regional Food Bank up and running.”
Tremblay explains when the need for a food bank in the Smoky River Region was initially realized, they were unable to operate independently, and the High Prairie Food Bank generously offered to help by opening a satellite office in the region. The satellite office has been in full operation since, with High Prairie reviewing applications as they were sent in.
“Applications to the Smoky River Regional Food Bank will be accepted at our FCSS office in the Town of Falher building,” says Tremblay.
“We will have a screening board in the region to help go through all of the applications,” she adds.
Tremblay says they’re hoping to get their society status application sent into the province soon, as it takes up to two years before societies can apply for casinos and other financial assistance.
“We’re currently working on bylaws and policies to ensure everything is in place,” she says. “This will help us get access to grants and funding that we don’t currently have access to.”
She says the food bank is still looking for donations, a need that will be even greater now that the Smoky River region will be moving out on their own.
In 2020, 98 hampers were given to families within the Smoky River Region. In 2021, those numbers increased slightly to 103 hampers. Tremblay says in 2022 the numbers dropped a little to 67 hampers, but she does not feel those numbers accurately depict the need for food assistance in the region. With increasing utility bills and other living expenses, she anticipates the demand for assistance to be greater with each passing year.
If you need assistance from the food bank, would like to apply for a hamper, or would like to donate garden items, various groceries or cash to help stock the food bank shelves, please phone Crystal at (780) 837-2220.
By Emily Plihal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Jul 26, 2023