Food basket program for the impoverished elderly, refugees launch fundraising campaign

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Grocery Run, a weekly food basket program serving hundreds of elderly and impoverished refugees, has launched a GoFundMe campaign as its sources of pandemic funding dry up.


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The program has grown from 100 families before the pandemic to 510 now, said Julia Tran, food dignity program manager at the Multicultural Health Brokers Cooperative (MHBC), which helps run the Grocery Run.

About half of the 3,200 people served by the program are children and 10 to 12 percent are seniors.

But the $ 150,000 the Grocery Run received from the Edmonton Community Foundation, the United Way, the Second Harvest food rescue charity, the federal government, and private donors were short-term.

“They focused on emergency response rather than longer-term strategies. I expect (the funding) to end by December, ”Tran said. “A lot of granting agencies have limits on how much money you can spend. As a worker cooperative, we are not recognized as a non-profit organization. This is an additional challenge that we must take up.


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From the Grocery Run launch in 2016 until around 2020, it operated solely on donated food, which was not enough to meet the needs of families as the pandemic worsened.

“The populations we work with will face the longer-term impacts of the pandemic,” Tran said. “The people we work with were the first to lose their jobs during the pandemic. Some families are so new to Canada that they are not eligible for specific supports for COVID.

“And some community members who are government-sponsored refugees have to reimburse the federal government for transportation costs and medical loans. The total for this can be (up to) $ 10,000.

The quality and volume of food received from grocery stores, restaurants and food producers tend to vary widely. Grocery Run used part of its external funding to purchase its own supplies to ensure families received sufficient baskets to prepare healthy meals.


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“How can a family cook a meal with just one pepper or one potato? They should get a few pounds of it, ”Tran said.

For the program itself, supply chain disruptions from the pandemic have increased food costs, eating into the Grocery Run budget. He also has to pay rent and utilities at his Edmonton Intercultural Center base, where he prepares the baskets, and the fees for his volunteer drivers who deliver almost all of the food to families.

Its team of volunteers has grown from 15 to 65, including volunteers who work as translators and help bridge cultural and linguistic gaps with some families.

Since the GoFundMe drive launched on August 30, he has received $ 30,630 of his goal of $ 150,000.

“(The goal) is $ 250 for a family for an entire year,” Tran said. “I want to help bond with all Edmontonians to make sure we all get through the pandemic together.”

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