The Okotoks Food Bank is gearing up for its second annual community-wide fall food drive this Saturday, September 16.

Volunteers will be dropping donation bags off at residences in Okotoks and Heritage Heights this week.

Okotoks Food Bank Executive Director Sheila Hughes says the hope is that those bags will be filled with much-needed non-perishable food items and toiletries to stock food bank shelves for the busy months ahead.

"We have been purchasing an awful lot of food right at the moment," Hughes explains. "It's important that our food hampers include a significant amount of fresh and frozen food. All of these donations of the non-perishable and the non-food items really help us, so we're able to put more of our resources towards purchasing fresh food."

She says the demand on food bank resources is on the rise, with an 18 percent increase in demand to date compared with the same time period in 2016.

"This past August was really busy, incredibly busy, with a 53 percent increase over August of last year," she explains. "We are still not out of the woods yet, I don't believe, from our downturn in the economy and we are looking for donations of any type."

Hughes says the community response last year was amazing, but not entirely surprising, based on the generosity and caring typically shown by area residents.

"I have to say we wholeheartedly thank the entire communtity for embracing this food drive," Hughes says. "Last year, we received overwhelming support with over 30,000 pounds of food collected. Summer's are always a difficult time for us, our donations go down significantly, but our demand does not."

Volunteers will pick up the filled donation bags from doorsteps Saturday morning, starting at 9 a.m.

The Okotoks Food Bank's most-needed items are: Rice, flour, sugar, peanut butter, jam, canned vegetables and fruit, canned meat, cereal, pasta, pasta sauce, soup, coffee, tea, pancake mix, oatmeal, beans, baby food, diapers, any types of school lunch items, as well as personal hygiene items such as shampoo, conditioner, razors, antiperspirant, shaving cream, toothbrushes and toothpaste.

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