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Carlyle's Foodbank receives big support from SIGA

Donation will help the Carlyle & District Foodbank meet its growing demand.

CARLYLE - Representatives from the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA) travelled from Saskatoon to the Carlyle & District Foodbank on Tuesday to make a $10,000 presentation. 

Alana Adamko, SIGA director of communications and media relations, Richard Ahenakew, regional general manager for SIGA and Lillian Denton, director of corporate social responsibility, were on hand.

"Since it first opened almost three decades ago, Bear Claw Casino & Hotel has been a part of the Carlyle community. Over the last year, we've seen the increased need in Carlyle and the surrounding area for food hampers and more food security. Bear Claw and SIGA wanted to step up to help the Carlyle & District Foodbank in filling that need for families," said Ahenakew, regional general manager for Bear Claw Casino at the White Bear First Nations, Dakota Dunes Casino near Saskatoon and Painted Hand Casino in Yorkton.

In 2023, the Carlyle & District Food Bank served 3,076 clients and distributed 1,159 food hampers to households in need.

"This donation is important in the continuation of our monthly operation of supplying food and support to those struggling," said Carlyle & District Foodbank executive director Theresa Luedtke. "We have seen an increase in food costs and have new as well as ongoing clients that require our help."

SIGA says witaskewin is one of its guiding principles. It refers to sharing the land or, in today's terms, sharing our resources. This guides SIGA's commitment to share success with the communities that seven SIGA casinos and PlayNow Saskatchewan are located in.

SIGA is donating a total of $225,000 to food banks and food nutrition programs across the province as part of its Community Investments Food Security Strategy.

SIGA, as a non-profit corporation, has a unique revenue distribution model, which reinvests all net revenue back into Saskatchewan. Fifty per cent of net casino revenue goes to the First Nations Trust (which is distributed to the 74 First Nations in the province), 25 per cent goes to community development corporations (CDCs) which reinvests the money back into local community initiatives, and 25 per cent to the provincial General Revenue Fund.

Carlyle Mayor Jen Sedor spoke and thanked SIGA and the Bear Claw Casino for the generous donation, and also thanked the Carlyle & District Foodbank for all they do.

Luedtke acknowledged the foodbank is on Treaty 4 Territory and that the Town of Carlyle and all the people here are beneficiaries  of this treaty. Treaty 4 encompasses the land of the Cree, Saulteaux, Dakota, Nakota and Lakota, and is on the homeland  of the Métis Nation.

The Carlyle & District Foodbank was started in 1989 and then filed for incorporation nine year later as a registered agency. It is also part of a bigger membership belonging to Foodbank Saskatchewan and Foodbank Canada.

The mission started with food hampers assisting individuals and families who struggled with food insecurity. Since 2017, it not only distributes food hampers, but also hygiene supplies, winter garments, books and household items.

Its area is not formally set up in the foodbank network, but with continued conversations with other foodbanks, it has an understanding where boundaries should be. The current area reaches as far west as Stoughton, east to Redvers,  south to Alameda and north to Wawota, supporting a radius of more than 60 kilometres.

The foodbank views itself as a supplement to the existing programs that clients should already be on if they are returning monthly. The amount of food in hampers is meant to last about seven days. The foodbank asks for valid health cards for all individuals residing in the house and types of income received in that household.

A single hamper in 2023 cost $75; since then it has increased by approximately $25 for the same items.

Programs that have received the  support include the Activity Centre in Redvers, with group homes, cooking class and individual hampers; the Senior Lend a Hand Program in five communities, a program started during COVID-19 and this is a way of stopping by to see how seniors are doing; hygiene supplies; library snacks in Arcola, Manor, Redvers and Carlyle; the Maryfield Public Health Unit Food Pantry; the Carlyle Cornerstone  Youth; school breakfast and snack programs; and helping new Canadians in Wawota, Carlyle and Kisbey.

The foodbank has been successful in participating in two programs through Foodbanks Canada – After the Bell, which is a summer snack program in which it gives out 280 packs, including fresh fruit; and the Menstrual Pilot Program, helping the community with 74 cases of women's hygiene supplies.

It has also started a community garden in Carlyle with last year seeing its first crop. Plans are to involve school students as much as possible and the foodbank has the Gordon F. Kells High School on board to build a garden shed, thanks to the donations from the Arcola Buck Night committee.

"On behalf of the Carlyle & District Foodbank, the Carlyle & Area Foodbank would like to thank the Bear Claw Casino and SIGA for this amazing donation which is so important in the continuation of our monthly operation of supplying food and support to those struggling with food insecurity," the foodbank said.