The Piikani Food Bank Society, a new charity dedicated to fighting rising levels of resource insecurity, held its first food drive in Piikani Nation on Oct. 8.
Community members from far and wide gathered to distribute Thanksgiving staples for neighbours in need. Pre-stuffed turkeys, hams, buttered bread, vegetables and poultry seasoning were placed in hampers for pickup and delivery, providing 254 families with warm and nourishing meals.
“We did it so nobody would be hungry during Thanksgiving,” says Jody Little Wolf, PFB director. “[We’re] giving back to the community, showing our support and love for our nation.”
Piikani Prevention Counselling Services, Pincher Creek and District Community Food Centre, Pincher Creek Co-op, St. Michael’s School and Fort Macleod Peer Group Support partnered with PFB to provide food and help fill hampers.
“It’s amazing. It’s incredible,” says Anne Gover, who chairs PC&D Community Food Centre. “They’re really going great guns.”
Gover explains that while food banks focus on getting food out quickly and mitigating community emergencies, food centres provide opportunities for education, often through cooking and gardening classes, and combining strengths can help deliver excellent results.
She looks forward to collaborating with PFB again in the future to continue sharing expertise and food supplies.
Little Wolf started PFB in January in response to elevated levels of food insecurity, driven by the pandemic.
She grew up on Piikani First Nation but left the reserve when she was 15 and went on to pursue a career in business. It was the need to help her people that called her back.
Creating a charity like PFB has been a dream of hers, allowing her to make a difference, particularly for those with precarious living situations and individuals recovering from addiction.
A woman of many trades, PFB is only one of Little Wolf’s many endeavours. She’s an entrepreneur who runs her own fashion and applique business, Waterbird Woman Designs. She works with recovering addicts and she’s a medical driver, helping residents of Piikani Nation access appointments.
The Thanksgiving hampers were in high demand. People arrived to pick up food long after the supply was exhausted, Little Wolf says, and she’s thinking of expanding the drive next year.
“I had a Facebook page, so a lot of them commented and thanked us. A lot of them posted on their own Facebook, showing pictures of their meals,” she says. “It was a good response from the nation members.”
The Thanksgiving drive is just the beginning, she says. She’s already organizing a similar project for the Christmas holidays and she’s been working on getting a community garden and greenhouse up and running.
Gillian Francis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze