‘This is a big help for us’

Food bank gracious as Safeway matches over $9,000 in customer donations

Thanks to Safeway shoppers, more residents will have fresh produce and other healthy items to fill their bellies through the Prince Albert Food Bank.

On Monday, store owner Wes Erlendson presented a donation to Food Bank executive director Kim Scruby for about $19,523.

Over the past year, Safeway customers donating at the checkout and participating in donation drives raised $9,761.51 themselves. Erlendson matched that donation with a contribution of his own.

The donation is in the form of gift cards, so food bank staff can buy fresh food and anything else they need.

“Donated food is great and much appreciated, but this gives us the option to get fresh produce in now,” Scruby said.

“Or, anything we specifically need. This is a big help for us.”

Safeway supports the food bank throughout the year. Giving back is something Erlendson has focused on since coming to Prince Albert in 2016.

“I think it’s important for a locally-owned business to show support for the community,” he said.

“One of the organizations I partner with … is the food bank. It’s hard to help individuals one-on-one, whereas that’s an organization that has the structure to do it and knows how to do it.”

Erlendson gives back to other organizations too. It’s fitting, he said, that a grocery store helps to feed the community.

He said the food bank staff “were really excited” when he told them of this year’s contribution.

“Throughout the year Wes and Safeway are constantly contributing to us,” Scruby said.

“It’s a huge help and today was an even nicer surprise.”

 Scuby said food bank clients are always happy to get fresh produce in their hampers, but it can be a challenge.

“The price of produce … that’s seen the most significant inflation over the past two years,” he said.

“We want to make our hampers as healthy as possible and that’s the best way to do it.”

Scruby thanked everyone who donated and said the funds will last a while. He expects that when COVID-19 restrictions — and associated supports — go away, the food bank will see an increase in use. It was helping 1,100 households a month before the pandemic. Since COVID-19 hit, he’s said, many people have been able to access government subsidies, softening the blow.

As for Erlendson, he was appreciative of everyone who contributed to the cause.

“Thanks to the community,” he said.

“Thanks to the customers who support our staff asking for donations. Thanks for what they have raised and for supporting the food bank through our operation.”