Airdrie Food Bank | The stories behind the statistics

Story by Christine Taylor - Airdrie Food Bank

Winter 2023/24

The people who seek help from food banks come from all walks of life, each with their own personal stories and situations. Their experiences often challenge the stereotypes and preconceptions many hold about who requires assistance from these essential services. This highlights our community’s intricate and multifaceted nature of hunger and food insecurity.

Walking into Airdrie Food Bank for the First Time
The experience of visiting a food bank for the first time can be overwhelming. It’s a mix of emotions, ranging from gratitude for finding help to reluctance to seek it.

Laura described her first visit as a life-changing moment. “I didn’t know what to expect,” she shared. “But as soon as I walked in, I felt welcomed and understood. The people here made me feel like I mattered. I honestly didn’t expect to receive fresh produce and dairy products. I thought it would be mostly canned and non-perishable items, but this is different. It feels like someone genuinely cares about my family.”

A Single Parent’s Perspective
For a newly single mom like Sarah, The Airdrie Food Bank provides a lifeline. “After I pay bills, I’m left with very little for food,” she said. “I didn’t know where to turn. The food bank gave us food to eat and the strength to start rebuilding my life.”

The Unforeseen Challenges of a Special Needs Newborn
Emily’s family faced unanticipated bills, including medical expenses due to their baby being in the NICU for months and a difficult choice between formula and essential expenses. The Airdrie Food Bank provided hope.

“The Airdrie Food Bank was there when we needed them most,” Emily said. “They provided us with the specialized formula through a referral from the health unit and offered support and kindness that made us feel like we were part of a caring community.”

Struggling Despite Two Incomes
Not everyone’s struggles are evident on the surface. Brian and Kathy are a hardworking, two-income household. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they kept their jobs, thinking they had weathered the storm unscathed. However, the post-pandemic reality brought its own set of challenges. “The cost of living has surged,” Brian explained. “Our rent has skyrocketed, gas and electric bills have become a substantial part of our monthly expenses, and the price of food – something we all need every day – has become increasingly unaffordable.”

As a result, their family was faced with a difficult choice. “We never imagined that we’d be in a position where we had to choose between paying a bill or putting food on the table. The Airdrie Food Bank has been our lifeline during these trying times. Their support means our kids have a healthy lunch for school and food at the table.”

Navigating the Golden Years
For Betty, retirement was meant to be a relaxing time, enjoying the rewards of a well-lived life. But as many soon discover, it comes with its financial hurdles. Living on a fixed income in an era of rising costs can be daunting, especially with health issues. “Receiving support from Airdrie Food Bank has been a ray of light in my golden years. It’s not just about the food; it’s about the dignity and sense of community it brings,” said Betty.

Navigating Life as a Disabled Veteran
Jim, a veteran on disability assistance, exemplifies resilience and selflessness. Many have financial hardships, particularly in Alberta, with rising rent costs. As a Legion- supported Veterans Food Bank, The Airdrie Food Bank takes immense pride in standing with individuals like Jim, who’ve dedicated themselves to serving their nation. For veterans like Jim, seeking help can be daunting due to pride. “The Airdrie Food Bank makes me feel valued and respected,” Jim shared. “They always take the time to chat with me in the pantry while I select some items.”

The Power of Community
“Mom was a single parent, and daily financial challenges were a part of our lives,” said Jessica, “Growing up, I believed that the people running the food bank must be rich to assist so many. However, as a young adult, my visit to the local food bank unveiled the extensive community support behind it. This experience revealed the essence of “community” and its indispensable role in everyone’s life. Food banks provide more than sustenance; they offer opportunities, preserve dignity, and foster community for those in need. The support my mom and I received from the food bank was pivotal in shaping who I am today and how I contribute to my community.”

Celebrating the Journey of Community Resilience
Many of our clients, once recipients of our support, return to donate food and funds, a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. Peter, a former client who faced challenging times, has come full circle. He explained, “I know what it’s like to be in that situation, and I’ll never forget the kindness I received here. Now that I can give back, it fills my heart with joy.”

These stories remind us that the Airdrie Food Bank is more than just a place to receive essential food. It’s a place where people come together to support one another, to uplift spirits in times of need, and to build a community that cares. In a world full of challenges, organizations like The Airdrie Food Bank continue to make a difference, one meal at a time, one family at a time.