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Students’ Union food bank finding its feet after rough start to 2016

By Saima Asad, September 20 2016 —

The University of Calgary Dinos football team weren’t the only ones who won big at Kickoff this year — the Students’ Union food bank scored its own share of touchdowns through the Bling Bling fundraising contest.

The Bling Bling contest is an Orientation Week event that pits faculties against each other to raise money for a certain charity. The faculty that scores the most “points” is announced during Kickoff.

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Jarrett Edmund

This year, the Faculty of Engineering won the Bling Bling contest and the SU food bank was the chosen charity. The food bank collected $3,677.25 from the contest.

After a rough start to 2016 with an increase in usage but a drastic
decline in donations, the
SU food bank has seen a recent resurgence following the O-Week contest and its annual Calgary Stampede food drives.

“We had a great summer in terms of donations,” food bank coordinator Allison Iriye said. “In the summer of 2015, we raised just over $2,800 and about 7,500 food items. This summer we got $4,486 dollars as well as just over 1,400 food items.”

Iriye attributed the success to the food bank’s summer fundraising events at the Calgary Stampede.

According to Iriye, the food bank received 130 food items and $215 at the annual President’s Barbecue on July 12. The food bank also participated in the Haskayne School of Business Dean’s Stampede Breakfast, where they received 89 food donations and $35.

“This was great to help us get through the summer and we really appreciated it,” Iriye said. “Those extra donations definitely helped out our clients and the increased traffic we had.”

Last spring and summer, the food bank distributed 55 hampers and fed a total of 113 people.

Those figures more than doubled this year, as the food bank distributed 130 hampers and fed 288 people.

Iriye said the increased usage could be linked to Alberta’s economic downturn. She said the U of C community should keep the food bank in mind when thinking of places to donate.

“If we did not have our donors, we would not be able to provide for our clients,” Iriye said.

The SU food bank’s O-Week fundraiser came a week before the Calgary Food Bank’s annual city-wide food drive on Sept. 17, administered by the Church of Latter Day Saints. This year, around 7,000 volunteers collected perishable food items from 198 neighbourhoods in Calgary, collecting 205,000 kilograms of food for the Calgary Food Bank in total. That’s 25,000 kilograms more than the annual food drive in 2015. This year’s drive came after unprecedented usage for the city’s food bank — the Calgary Food Bank fed around 170,000 people in its most recent fiscal year.

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