COLD LAKE - In a display of community support, Cold Lake First Nations recently organized a food drive at Sobeys in the City of Cold Lake on Feb. 3.
This initiative marked the launch of the newly established Cold Lake First Nations food bank, aiming to address food insecurity among its community members.
Kate Caurtorielle, the program coordinator for the new food bank, outlined the specific items they were seeking as donations. She emphasized the importance of items such as eggs, cereal, canned lunch meat, potatoes, canned fruit, peanut butter, rice, and oatmeal. Additionally, she highlighted the acceptance of frozen vegetables and fruits, as the food bank is equipped with freezers for storage.
“This program is specifically designed for Cold Lake First Nations members who are food insecure,” said Caurtorielle, emphasizing the targeted nature of their efforts is to support those in need within the First Nations community.
Caurtorielle extended an invitation to all community members who are able to contribute.
Discussing the demographics served by the food bank, Caurtorielle explained, “In Cold Lake First Nations, there are a lot of households with elders, children, and adults living together. We provide hampers based on house sizes, ensuring that it feeds entire households and offers a selection of healthier food options, including meats, oats, eggs, milk, fruits, and vegetables.”
Reflecting on the program's growth, she noted, “People are starting to know about it and are accessing it more.”
Addressing Saturday’s outreach efforts, Caurtorielle noted, "This is our first event, our first food drive... this is the first time we're reaching out to the town."
Highlighting the origin of the program, Caurtorielle credited a council member with Cold Lake First Nations, stating, “It started from a councillor on my nation, and then that program got put into our department. We rely on volunteers and are always looking for more.”
Volunteer Kristen Ivami, who was assisting the food drive, shed light on the impact the food bank is having on the community, particularly benefiting elders and individuals with limited income.
Ivami acknowledged there are food insecurity issues seen across Canada and stressed the importance of programs like this in rural areas.
“Food insecurity is a super big problem all across Canada, but it's definitely more of a problem in rural areas. So, it's really important that there are programs like this for all individuals.”
Ivami also emphasized the long-term health implications of making healthy food choices, saying, "Since colonization, people have been at a higher risk for things like diabetes because [certain items] were not in their traditional diet. So, the pantry's goal is to give more wholesome food that is going to be healthy instead of loading everyone with just sugar.”
For further details about the Cold Lake First Nations Food Bank, call Cold Lake First Nations at 780-594-7183 or drop an email at info@clfns.