dave buston for metro calgary
The shelves at the Veterans Food Bank are at their barest, and there’s still constant growth in the demand for their food.
George Bittman, a navy vet and chairman of the Calgary Poppy Fund, which runs the food bank for over 1,000 Calgary veterans and their families, said the Alberta boom has put the pinch on vets who rely on a fixed income — forcing many to come to the city food bank for the first time.
“With rents going up as they are, taxes, utilities – and you know what’s happened with gas and electric bills, when you have an older couple in their 70s or 80s living on $2,000 a month, some of them just can’t pay it,” said Bittman.
Couple that with the fact a veteran’s pride often gets in the way of giving them a hand, it’s a situation bordering on critical.
“I’m a veteran and I would be very embarrassed to hold my hand out, and (veterans) certainly wouldn’t go to a civilian organization,” said Bittman. The Veterans Food Bank doesn’t just provide food, though vets can access five boxes of food and $200 in grocery vouchers once every two months. They are also capable of providing a variety of services and goods — from wheelchairs and clothes to helping with rent, utility and even prescription drug payments — and it’s a year-round operation.
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