BANFF – The Town of Banff’s efforts to increase awareness around food security in the community have been recognized with a provincial award.
The municipality’s growing food movement received a ChooseWell Healthy Community award from Alberta Parks and Recreation for the most significant community change.
The award recognized Banff’s various food programs, from the Community Table lunch every Thursday, Food Rescue and the monthly dinner, all supported by volunteer efforts.
Familly and Community Support Services community development coordinator Jill Harrison said it was the lunch program that was the seedling that began it all.
“The Community Table lunch is an opportunity for people to come together and enjoy a nourishing hearty meal at a low cost,” she said.
Food Rescue, which diverts food from the landfill from local grocery stores and businesses soon followed. Each week the lunch program also operates as a distribution point for reducing food waste and sometimes the ingredients have also been rescued.
The lunch program also began to offer a cultural component, with members of local communities that span the entire globe coming together to provide a multi-cultural menu. It became so popular a community dinner began to be offered the last Thursday of each month.
“When a community is connected, it is a healthy community,” Harrison said. “Being healthy is as much about what you give yourself in terms of food, as it is about emotional nourishment.
“If we can tie that all together we know what we have built is a really strong resilient community.”
Recent cultural meals included a Japanese lunch last Thursday (Nov. 22), and a dinner hosted by the Filipino community at the beginning of October that was attended by Consul General to Calgary from the Philippines Gilberto G. B. Asuque and saw close to 400 attend.
Harrison said the cultural component of the program has been a transformational success, with local ethnic groups galvanizing around offering a meal to their friends and neighbours in the community.
“It is the most incredible experience to see how anyone can sit at a table and feel welcome and equal,” she said.
Businesses and community groups have also been inspired to get involved, Like Saltlik, which is hosting the monthly dinner his Thursday (Nov. 29), the Banff Seniors Centre, 101 Bear St. from 5:30-7:30 p.m.