The Red Deer Food Bank is working to ensure Central Albertans who receive food hampers can make the most out of the ingredients.   

On Wednesday night, the food bank hosted a cooking class in Kitchen 49, where participants made a meal from ingredients included in emergency food hampers.  

The food hampers include pasta, rice, cereal, canned vegetables, and canned soup, along with bread, fresh produce, and meat.  

Food bank food hamper ingredientsIngredients included in food hampers. 
Photo provided by the Red Deer Food Bank. 

“The participants got to open up an emergency food hamper and learn to create some meals out of some of the things that we routinely provide,” said Mitch Thomson Red Deer Food Bank Executive Director. “We’re just trying to show what goes into a hamper and then how we're working to build skills for the people that we serve.”  

On average, the food bank is distributing about 1,100 food hampers to households every month.   

To be eligible to receive a food hamper, individuals and families must live within about 20 per cent of the poverty line.  

“We also serve people that are facing hardship because of circumstances, we always keep that in mind as well,” Thomson said. “Traditionally we have built an emergency hamper for once a month. If there's a really dire circumstance or a strong rationale for a second one, we might consider it, but generally, it's just one.”  

In addition to the food hampers, the food bank also offers a pantry program, where clients can take anything extra, as often as they need.   

The food bank also offers community programming through Kitchen 49, where Central Albertans can learn the basics of cooking, food storage, and nutrition.   

“Ultimately, we're trying to build skills in our clients to ensure that food is accessible and used and repurposed as needed, but we're also doing other things just to educate the community and build community,” Thomson said.