Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek was out grocery shopping Saturday morning, not for her pantry, but for someone in need.
The 31st annual Stuff-a-bus event — a partnership between Calgary Transit, Calgary Co-op and the Calgary Food Bank — collected bags upon bags of donations, to help ensure those struggling to make ends meet over the holiday season don't have to worry about feeding families.
This annual food drive to stuff Calgary Transit buses full of donations was particularly important this year, the mayor said.
"We've got a lot of parents who are skipping meals to make sure their kids are eating, so any donation that any Calgarian can make toward the Calgary Food Bank will go a very long way," said Gondek.
Demand at the food bank is higher than normal this year.
Calgary Food Bank president and CEO Melissa From says they are feeding nearly 700 households every day.
The 31st annual Stuff-a-bus event collected bags upon bags of donations, to help those struggling to make ends meet over the holiday season. (Laurence Brisson Dubreuil/CBC)
"This year more than ever, we're just seeing such an incredible increase in demand. I think at this point they're calling it a cost-of-living crisis. The reality is that more and more everyday Calgarians just are really struggling to make ends meet. So campaigns like this go a long way to helping us help them," said From.
This is the 31st year Calgary Co-op has hosted this event. Ken Keelor is the CEO and he said they made it easy this year with $10 pre-packaged bags of food, and opportunities to donate at the till.
"Everyday essentials — tinned goods, Campbell's tomato soup, Kraft Dinner, pasta, peanut butter — really things that are, for us, commonplace, but for many they can't afford to buy these items," Keelor said.
While this event was just for one day, there are more chances to give over the holidays.
The mayor's Christmas food drive also kicks off this weekend. That's where the mayor and city councillors challenge each other to raise as much food and funds as possible. The CBC Calgary food bank drive kicks off in December.