Church donations to Canadian food banks mean new coolers, appliances and ability to feed hundreds of thousands of people

Food bank usage in Canada is rising sharply; JustServe and the Church are helping those in need

When Colin and Karen Nemeth wanted to serve in their community, they saw a call on for volunteers at Interfaith Food Bank Society of Lethbridge

The Nemeths — members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Alberta, Canada — began spending time each week sorting food at the food bank.

“It was something we could do together in retirement,” Karen Nemeth explained. “It’s a great place to serve, an amazing organization.”

The Nemeths said they noticed how the food bank’s values align with the Church’s teachings on self-reliance.

For example, the food bank offers programs and resources to empower people, such as cooking classes, learning gardens, a thrift shop and employment skills.

Executive Director Danielle McIntyre said the organization looks to “give a hand up rather than a handout,” according to a news release from the Church’s Canada Newsroom.

The Nemeths saw how the Church’s self-reliance tools could be useful to the food bank. And so, working with the Church, the food bank held a 10-week self-reliance class in 2023 called Find a Better Job. Participants developed new skills, including resume writing, networking, job seeking and interviewing.

The food bank will hold a second job course in early 2024, along with an EnglishConnect class from the Church.

As the Nemeths continued to volunteer at the food bank and spoke more with McIntyre, they found out about a need for more cooler space. Karen Nemeth worked with the food bank to apply for a grant from the Church’s Humanitarian Services.

The subsequent donation from the Church allowed the food bank to triple its capacity to store refrigerated and frozen foods, and on Dec. 6, 2023, the new cold storage unit was unveiled. 

Eight people representing the community and Church stand by a new cold storage cooler unit donated to the Interfaith Food Bank Society of Lethbridge in Canada.
Community partners and local Church leaders at the unveiling of a two-story cooler unit donated to the Interfaith Food Bank Society of Lethbridge in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, Dec. 6, 2023. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

McIntyre said the additional space comes at a time when food bank usage in Canada is rising sharply.

“Being able to provide the families we serve with more fresh and frozen foods — which tend to be more healthy — that variety, it’s a big deal,” she said.

At the unveiling, Lethbridge Alberta East Stake President R. Aaron Low said the Church’s goal is to serve others as Christ did. 

“We were so grateful to be participating with the food bank on this initiative,” President Low said. “We try and do what Christ would want us to do. And certainly, He would want us to try and help those who are in need.”

Karen Nemeth said JustServe is a way that anyone can help meet needs around them.

“As we get out and serve in the community, we get to see the needs that are within our community,” she said. “We, as Church members, have access to all the resources the Church has. Then we can offer those resources in the community to benefit all our brothers and sisters.”

Donation to Shelbourne Community Kitchen

A recent Church donation in Saanich, British Columbia, will help a community kitchen feed those in need in the Greater Victoria area.

The money given to Shelbourne Community Kitchen on Nov. 16, 2023, allowed the organization to expand its walk-in cooler and buy a walk-in freezer, blast chiller, combination steamer and convection oven, vacuum sealer and commercial immersion blender, reported Canada Newsroom.

Victoria British Columbia Stake President Gary W. Anderson said the donation will help the kitchen “to provide more assistance to the Victoria community and to be able to fulfill the growing demand of people needing assistance from this organization.”

A local stake president stands with the director of operations for Shelbourne Community Kitchen in front of shelves full of food.
Victoria British Columbia Stake President Gary W. Anderson, left, and Shelbourne Community Kitchen Director of Operations Kim Cummins, right, stand in front of shelving at the kitchen in Saanich, British Columbia, Nov. 16, 2023. A donation from the Church of Jesus Christ will help the kitchen upgrade its facilities. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The organization seeks to improve self-reliance and sustainability through various resources, classes and programs.

Larry Green, an area welfare and self-reliance manager for the Church, said: “We are grateful for the work the Shelbourne Community Kitchen does in the community. We are delighted to support their inclusive and creative ways to address hunger and self-reliance.”

Donation to Feed Nova Scotia

A monetary donation from the Church to Feed Nova Scotia will provide 525,000 meals to food-insecure households in the province.

Feed Nova Scotia Executive Director Nick Jennery said the donation brought him to tears for the impact it will have. 

“We know the impact that one meal can have — it takes away immediate anxiety; it can start a conversation and make a needed connection; it can provide hope. Multiply that times 525,000 — that is a huge gift to those most vulnerable in our community,” he said. “The belief that the Church has in the work we do is both humbling and motivating.”

A news release on Nov. 15, 2023, from Canada Newsroom said 1 in 5 Nova Scotians live in food-insecure households and 1 in 4 children live in poverty. Since 2021, Feed Nova Scotia has seen a 25% increase in the number of people accessing its support.

Dartmouth Nova Scotia Stake President Jonathan R. Fox said: “I have a great deal of respect and gratitude for the work Feed Nova Scotia is doing and for the service they provide. What an invaluable contribution they are making to the most vulnerable among us. It is an honor for us to help in this way.”

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