What began with an invitation to take a tour of the food bank for Hunger Awareness Week last May has grown into an amazing collaboration between the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) and the Saskatoon Food Bank & Learning Centre.
Inspired by the tour, nearly 250 SRC employees have participated in a company-wide volunteering initiative with local food banks across Saskatchewan. With small groups coming to the Saskatoon Food Bank twice per week for 3 hour shifts, more than 200 Saskatoon employees have participated in this initiative. Since October, SRC employees have been sorting food, packing hampers, and assisting with special projects. Over the past 5 months, SRC employees volunteered almost 1,100 hours at the Saskatoon Food Bank & Learning Centre. SRC employees also hosted a One and A Half Tonne Challenge, raising over 1,500 kg of food, clothing, toiletries and household items.
Volunteer Coordinator Jasmin Fookes says the experience has been very positive:
"Twice a week, we can count on a large group from SRC to assist us with everything that needs to be done. Whether that is sorting food, packing food hampers, painting, or helping out at the clothing depot, we really look forward to meeting new people from SRC and welcoming them to our community."
Executive Director Laurie O’Connor says that the partnership is an excellent example of how corporations can get involved in making a difference:
“We love to hear from SRC employees about the impact volunteering has had in their lives. It is often difficult for people to come to terms with how great the needs are in our city. Once people see firsthand the volume of food we go through each day, the need for clothing, and our many programs and services, they not only want to get involved, they are compelled to share their experiences with friends and family. When you have over 300 people talking about hunger and poverty in our communities, the impact is enormous. Whether people are talking about the food bank during their coffee break, the dinner table or the hockey rink, all conversations lead to one thing- increased awareness. That’s what really is exciting for us, because we know that widespread awareness is the first step in creating stronger, healthier communities.”
Says Erin Taman-Athmer, SRC’s Manager of Communications:
"SRC is pleased to have been able to collaborate with the Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre over the past five months as part of our Employee Volunteer Program. We’ve seen this initiative have a positive effect on both our employees and SRC as a whole. Employees are telling us they are incredibly proud of the positive impact we are having on the community through this initiative and that in turn, they are being encouraged to do more in their communities outside of SRC’s activities. Ultimately this initiative has helped us reach our goal of enabling our employees to reach out to the communities where they live and work to create positive impacts on them and for that, we are incredibly proud.”