‘Tis the season to support the food bank

Can Man Dan stops in the city for province-wide campout tour

By KIRAN MALIK-KHAN, Connect Contributor

Dan Johnstone, 28, also known as Can Man Dan was in Fort McMurray from December 8 to 10 for his fifth annual Moving Hunger Out Winter Campout Tour of Alberta. PHOTO: Kiran Malik-Khan, Connect Contributor

Dan Johnstone, 28, also known as Can Man Dan was in Fort McMurray from December 8 to 10 for his fifth annual Moving Hunger Out Winter Campout Tour of Alberta. PHOTO: Kiran Malik-Khan, Connect Contributor

The Wood Buffalo Food Bank (WBFB) has many reasons to celebrate the season, and the primary one is our region’s endless generosity. From local support, to young men like Dan Johnstone coming in from Edmonton to lend a hand, things are looking good, but help is still needed.

Johnstone, 28, also known as Can Man Dan was in Fort McMurray from December 8 to 10 for his fifth annual Moving Hunger Out Winter Campout Tour of Alberta. During his three-day campout outside Safeway Canada, which is also supporting his program, he collected 4180 lbs. of food and $1812.52 for the Wood Buffalo Food Bank.

“I grew up very poor. My mom was a single mother, and we used a variety of social services. The food bank put food on our table. When I turned 18, I started giving back. In 2011 I created the Can Man Dan initiative, and we are supporting food banks across Alberta,” explained Johnstone, who works in construction, and is a warranty manager for a home builder.

As of last year, Johnstone has collected an estimated 150,000 lbs. of food, and raised close to $100,000 for Alberta food banks.

“The economy is in terrible shape, and unemployment is sadly sky-rocketing. Food banks supply hampers to families, shelters, and agencies. You don’t realize how important the food bank is until you need it. They deserve the support.”

Anna Noble, Communications Coordinator, Wood Buffalo Food Bank couldn’t agree more. She notes, 2015 has been record-breaking.

“We have seen a huge increase in needs since January; 2015 has been a very busy year. In September 2015 we gave out 422 hampers, which at the time was recording-breaking for us, but, we just reviewed the November 2015 numbers, and saw a 125% rise over November 2014 and gave out 430 hampers. Year-to-date, we are sitting at a 76% increase in usage. As well, we have had to cut our hamper sizes three times this year in order to be able to spread out the food to everyone and keep up with the demand. Hampers are now about half the size they were at the beginning of the year,” she explains.

But, Wood Buffalo is rallying for the Food Bank. Earlier in December, the Corporate Challenge exceeded the association’s goal of $300,000 with $324,155, including a major anonymous donation, which helped the group break goal, followed by the three-day annual Syncrude Food Drive which brought in another $66,622.25 and 85,561 lbs. of food.

“We have seen a lot of support in the community through our food drives this season. As well, we have garnered a lot of support from businesses and groups in town as they hold their own food drives and events during the holiday season.”

“We have seen a lot of support in the community through our food drives this season. As well, we have garnered a lot of support from businesses and groups in town as they hold their own food drives and events during the holiday season.”

Noble says the food bank essentially needs “a lot of everything.” Current needs are always changing, hence posted daily on their Twitter, and Facebook.

“One thing people don’t realize is that we do need and distribute feminine hygiene products, as well as toiletries. As for food items, right now we could use some donations of pancake mix, canned beans, spices, pasta sauce and oatmeal. And, we always need canned meats and vegetables.”

To donate, or volunteer at the warehouse, or upcoming food drives, contact Anna Noble at comm@woodbuffalofoodbank.com or by calling 743-1125. They also accommodate groups, and tour requests.

– Connect Weekly –