Tuesday, May 10, 2016

McMan presentation to Town Council focuses on food bank, FASD, programming, and renovations

Toni Lucas

Council for the Town of Pincher Creek held their regular meeting on Monday evening, May 9. McMan Youth,  Family and Community  Services Association Food Bank presented an update provided by Team Leader Anne Gover, Jane Goddard, and Food Bank Interim Coordinator Rose Murfin.  Immediately after introductions Gover said of their new home at the former RCMP building on Main Street, "We love it. That's the main reason we're here, is to say thank you."

The McMan team outlined some of the agency's recent work, plans going forward, and the challenges they are facing.  Some of the projects mentioned are the five programs they are currently running, upcoming renovations, and the running of the food bank for the area.  Gover also said McMan is very happy to be involved in the current Pincher Creek Housing Survey discussion.

Food Bank

A concern was expressed that the Fort McMurray emergency may create a shortfall at the local foodbank as resources could be directed to go there, according to Gover.  "We have some reserves that are saved up, but not enough for a month. That is just something to think about.  If we are a safety net for the community, I have to think about how to have those back-up reserves."

The group reported the new facility has streamlined efficiency, making it possible for volunteers to unload 10 pallets in about half an hour.  Some of the recent initiatives include St. Michael's Church's agreement to accept food bank donations every second Sunday, and getting local gardeners to work in conjunction by growing food for the food bank.  In addition to fresh local produce, they are working on a program which will allow local ranchers to donate meat.

Murfin reported that in March 197 hampers were distributed, helping 301 people.  These hampers went to 159 adults, 136 children, and 6 seniors.  There was a slight dip in April when they helped 281 people. The breakdown for that month was 149 adults, 125 children, and 7 seniors.  Murfin said, "Yes, we are serving a lot of families out there, and there is a need in the community."  She explained Calgary Food Bank sends pallets of food.  "We don't have any control over what is in those pallets." The local McMan Agency Junction food bank has priced out the average off the shelf purchase price of a hamper at $75.  The hampers depend on the size of the family, and can be requested once a month, and emergency hampers are also distributed.

"Close the Door on Hunger" is a program that will be researching the use of gift cards rather than a hamper delivery system. The idea is to improve the quality of support and look into co-operative efforts and partnerships and educational opportunities.  The Summer Seed program expands on local gardeners' work creating a collaboration with the foodbank.  Last years 'Grow a row for the food bank' campaign was quite successful, according to Gover.

Councillor Doug Thornton asked if money donations went into local food purchases.  Gover said they sometimes do.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD)

The McMan Agency works with a number of clients at all ages of life who have FASD.  In addition to these programs Jane Goddard is working with the Alberta Parent-Child Assistance Program (PCAP).  "My mandate is quite simple," said Goddard.  "It's to try and reduce the number of children born in Alberta with FASD." Working exclusively with First Nations women, she said she endeavours to use a nonjudgmental educational program to help women who are at risk of having a FASD child to chose to make better choices for both themselves and their child.

Gover said The Junction is currently working on creating a social entrepreneurship center for their clients. A few other details mentioned were upcoming renovations expected to cost approximately $20,000, including new flooring at the facility. Included in the renovation planning is signage and acknowledgement of those who help those who help others. "What we are proposing is we put our major sponsors right over the door in the square glass panels, so they have prominence."


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