Africa Centre food bank to stay open after community support

An Alberta food bank that’s been providing hampers to racialized groups through the COVID-19 pandemic will remain open

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An Alberta food bank that’s been providing hampers to racialized groups through the COVID-19 pandemic will remain open after receiving significant community support in recent days.

The Africa Diaspora Food Bank, run by Black-led organizations in Alberta, launched last spring after the start of the pandemic to provide more than 100 culturally specific hampers to families in need each week.

Earlier this week, organizers said they were at risk of closing their doors due to a lack of funding.

But a recent surge of donations means the group can keep distributing food packages through to the start of the fall.

“We received an impressive response from Albertans,” said Sharif Haji, executive director of Africa Centre, which oversees the food bank.

“We’re not able to do this without community support.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many Albertans, but racialized communities have seen a disproportionate effect from cases and infections.

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That’s evident in northeast Calgary, which saw Alberta’s highest case rates at the start of the virus’s second wave, due to a high concentration of essential workers and multi-family households.

Haji said community initiatives such as the Africa Diaspora Food Bank that directly target underserved communities are vital in helping those who may otherwise fall through the gaps.

He added that more data on the demographics affected by COVID-19 is needed to better serve these groups.

“Need to have the data to be able to direct the response, whether it’s for vaccine or for COVID response or for anything,” Haji said.

Though the food bank is back on its feet financially, a fundraising drive for the program continues, in a partnership with Servus Credit Union.

Through the end of March, Servus is matching donations to the program up to $20,000. Donations can be made online at africacentre.ca/foodbank.

jherring@postmedia.com

Twitter: @jasonfherring

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