By Steffanie Costigan - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on December 7, 2023.
The Interfaith Food Bank has new cold storage units thanks to a donation from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
The food bank was able to triple its cold storage space for shipping and receiving thanks to $140,000 in funding from the church which will enable it to handle more perishable food for distribution to struggling individuals and families within the community.
Interfaith Food Bank executive director Danielle McIntyre spoke at the ribbon cutting celebration Wednesday morning where she talked about the struggles of the increasing living expenses people are facing.
“As everyone knows, food security is a huge issue in our community. And it’s not unique to Lethbridge at all. We are seeing the costs of living are rising faster than incomes and income supports. We’re seeing mental health as a major issue that is preventing people from maintaining or retaining their employment,” said McIntyre.
McIntyre said the food bank was challenged by not having enough space for long-term food storage and there was limited time and money to expand.
“This project is something that is very valuable to us because it allows us to take that food that would otherwise be wasted and make sure that it is getting into the hands of those who need it most.
“We have consistently been trying to upgrade our infrastructure across the food bank network. We’re always working on transportation, and continual upgrades but food banks are volunteer run – we work with limited time and money.”
The donation will expand cold storage capacity to more than 7,500 square feet. The storage units have doors at floor level.
“When the LDS church learned that we were having to turn away offers of food because our old units were small and aging, they couldn’t stand by and let that happen. And with their help, we have now been able to maximize our cold storage space, nearly tripling the amount of storage that we have for cold, fresh and frozen product here in our shipping and receiving warehouse,” said McIntyre.
Stake president of the Lethbridge East for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Aaron Low said the church is grateful to be able to help and their goal is to serve others like Christ did.
“We were so grateful to be participating with the food bank on this initiative. . . we try and do what He would want us to do. And certainly he would want us to try and help those who are in need. And we have many of those,” said Low.
Low said traditionally church is thought as a place you go to on Sunday, however there is more to it.
“I think one of the things that we’ve thought about is that traditionally, we think of churches as a place where you go on Sunday and sit and learn about God. I think church is more than that and certainly, by participating in the community and looking for ways that we can help those in need. This is what church should be,” Low said.
Stake president of Lethbridge North Douglas Atwood said he hopes this will have a positive impact on struggling people in the community.
“We hope that this will help facilitate the ability to take care of those needy people when it comes to food commodities,” said Atwood.
Atwood expressed the LDS church serves where they can, not to get their name on display but rather because they believe in following Christ’s example. “It’s the right thing to do, isn’t that? And we don’t do this to have our name on display. We do it to help people. And we believe that that’s what Jesus Christ would have us do. And so that’s why we do it.”
Lethbridge East Stake communications director Karen Nemeth said she has been a long-time volunteer at the Interfaith Food Bank and saw there was a need for help.
“I talked to Danielle and said, ‘What can we do to help? What are some needs? What are some? If you had a wish list? What would it be?’ And she mentioned that they needed coolers and a bunch of other things. And we thought the coolers could be something, so we went ahead and put an application and got the funding for humanitarian, which was amazing,” said Nemeth.
Nemeth said the LDS church believes in helping others and tries to donate to organizations that help the people in the community.
“We believe in Jesus Christ, and we believe that we should be doing his work here upon the earth. And we feel like if we can help our fellow man, then that’s what he would do. And so, we love to give funding to organizations that are able to help others in the community.”