City of Calgary Peace Officer team and Calgary Food Bank initiate hamper partnership to support Calgarians experiencing homelessness
The City of Calgary’s Partner Agency Liaison (PAL) Team is being provided 30 non-perishable food hampers per month in partnership with the Calgary Food Bank’s Hampers for the Homeless program. This enables Community Peace Officers on patrols or responding to calls to supply ready-to-eat food, for the short-term relief of hunger to Calgarians experiencing homelessness.
The partnership initiated when PAL Team Community Peace Officer Melanie Thomas encountered clients who hadn’t eaten that day during an evening shift, when resources that would normally be accessible weren’t available as immediate supports. To help, Thomas connected with the Calgary Food Bank, asking if they had any pre-made bagged lunches available to help feed these individuals. When Thomas went to pick up the food, the Food Bank staff informed her of their Hampers for the Homeless program.
Sandeep Lotay, Program Supervisor at the Calgary Food Bank, had recently read a news article about the work of The City's PAL Team, and connected directly with Thomas after her visit. Lotay thought the Food Bank’s Hampers for the Homeless program would be perfect for the team to access on an ongoing basis.
“The PAL team is always looking to identify gaps in front line service for the rough sleeping population. Often, our clients are camping in remote, hard-to-reach areas, with limited or no access to some of the resources that clients downtown or in shelter might have,” said Thomas. “Our partnership with the Program allows us to provide food to clients who otherwise might not have access to it.”
The City of Calgary’s PAL team is a dedicated team of Community Peace Officers dedicated to addressing encampments, with a unique working model that focuses on creating positive working relationships and open communication channels with social agencies and businesses who work to support vulnerable populations in Calgary.
“It has been an exciting journey onboarding the PAL team to the program,” said Lotay. “We are thrilled about this partnership and look forward to supporting the team in the amazing work they do with those experiencing homelessness in our city.”
“Being able to provide our clients with these hampers is so crucial, because it allows them to focus more so on things like doctor appointments and housing viewings, and less on where their next meal is going to come from,” said Thomas.
The Calgary Food Bank Hampers for the Homeless Program identifies food as a catalyst to support anyone in need and the program gives agencies a starting point for conversation with those in crisis and an opportunity to help individuals transition out of homelessness.
“Food is a connector, said Lotay. “It really helps support those in need and builds relationships.”
The food hampers are available to the downtown Calgary Community Standards Peace Officer beat and bike teams to hand out while on shift to Calgarians in need.
To learn more about the Calgary Food Bank and the Hampers for the Homeless program, please visit calgaryfoodbank.com.
For more information on The City of Calgary’s response to illegal encampments, visit Calgary.ca/encampments.