Community Spotlight: Edmonton’s Food Bank

Interview with Hailey Helset, Agency Depot Engagement Manager at Edmonton’s Food Bank


Tell us about yourself and your organization!

My name is Hailey Helset and I am the Agency Depot Engagement Manager with Edmonton’s Food Bank. I started as a summer student in 2019 working to build hampers for people in need before I finished my degree in criminology. When I graduated in April 2020, I worked the following summer in the same position before transitioning into my current role at Edmonton’s Food Bank. I now have the pleasure of working with 300+ organizations including agencies, soup kitchens, schools, shelters, and food depots across the City of Edmonton.Edmonton’s Food Bank provides food to more than 30,000 people through our hamper programs every month. Of those receiving food through these programs, approximately 40% are children under the age of 18. Edmonton’s Food Bank is, primarily, a central food warehouse and distribution centre for local social service agencies, shelters, soup kitchens, and schools. We raise food and collect food donations from the food industry and other donors. In 2022, Edmonton’s Food Bank collected, sorted, and redistributed 5.9 million kilograms of food.


What kinds of programs and support does Edmonton’s Food Bank offer, and how do you see the impact of these programs? What is the ripple effect of creating food security?

Edmonton’s Food Bank has many programs to reduce food insecurity. These include: 

  • Hamper programs that provide food hampers for individuals and families
  • Food for partner programs that provide about 400,000 meals and snacks every month
  • Supporting Nutrition for all Classes and Kids (S.N.A.C.K) for schools and child-focused agencies
  • The Beyond Food Program that assists people with job readiness and personal supports such as assistance with resume writing and job searches, safety tickets, referrals, and much, much more

These food programs help directly with food insecurity and relieve one source of concern. By supporting food needs, we help people free up their monetary resources for rent, utilities, or other important expenses. We also often hear it helps to know there are people in the community supporting them through their difficulties. Our Beyond Food Program decreases food insecurity by helping people to increase their employability and earning potential or by maximizing the supports they receive. In 2022 the Beyond Food Program assisted over 800 clients. It is only with the support of the community that we are able to make these positive impacts for the people we serve.


Like YESS, Edmonton’s Food Bank has a long legacy in Edmonton. How do you continue to evolve to meet the needs of the community?

Edmonton’s Food Bank was Canada’s first food bank! We have been operating for 42 years and continuously evolving to help meet the needs of our community. Our annual client surveys show what is most needed. For example, our Beyond Food Program was created after our 2015 survey. This summer we opened a new building that will feature a pantry to help provide other access for our clients. We provide mobile hamper depots to meet clients in their own neighbourhoods where barriers exist.

Edmonton’s Food Bank does “food” really well, and to help move toward lasting change we continue to collaborate with other agencies assisting people in need to provide the best network of resources possible to people. 


What is one thing you wish the community knew about people who access Edmonton’s Food Bank?

That it could be anyone! All it takes for many people is one unexpected large expense or loss of a job and they can quickly need our assistance. We have people who were donors become clients and people who were clients become donors. We are here when you need us.