Volunteers Help Meet a Growing Need

Each year, approximately 130,000 people call upon the Calgary Food Bank to feed themselves and their families.

It’s an enormous task – one too large for the food bank to manage on its own. 

That’s why, for nearly two decades Chevron Canada employees and retirees have been helping the non-profit organization meet this critical need by volunteering at a local community garden. Over the past 18 years, the Garden of Eat’n has supplied more than 91,000 kg of fresh produce to the Calgary Food Bank, helping to ensure its clients have a nutritious and balanced diet.

 Calgary Food Bank Chevron Retirees Garden

Chevron Canada employee Awotu Utunedi participates in summertime weeding at the Garden of Eat’n in support of the Calgary Food Bank.

In early September, some 90 volunteers from Chevron and other energy companies braved cool temperatures to harvest more than 9,000 kg of beets, carrots, potatoes and onions from the garden, located east of Calgary.

“It was raining, it was wet – I had a blast,” said Linda Huston, an administrative assistant with Chevron Canada’s Drilling & Completions team.

Strong Commitment

Undaunted by the weather, Huston pulled on her gum boots, a pair of jeans, three shirts, a hoodie and a raincoat to get through the five-hour day. “I wasn’t going to jam out of the morning because it was cold outside,” she said. “I was committed to doing this.

“It’s nice to know the vegetables are going to people who truly need them and who truly appreciate it,” Huston added.

It was the fourth time over the summer that Chevron employees and retirees volunteered in the garden east of Calgary.

The relationship between Chevron and its retirees continues to be a strong one, with each supporting the other, said Policy, Government and Public Affairs Representative Jennifer Wierzbicki.

Retiree Involvement

“Our retirees continue to live The Chevron Way, even after they stop working for Chevron,” she said. “It’s truly inspirational. We couldn’t do this without them.”

Harold Freund, president of the Chevron Retirees Association, has volunteered at the garden for the past 12 years.

“Every year it’s pretty onerous when you look at the size of the fields,” said Freund. “We couldn’t do it just as retirees. The young people were so energetic. They make it a lot easier.

“We’re really eager to help the community in giving them a hand up, not a hand out.”

The vegetables – 4,100 kg of beets, 3,900 kg of carrots, 135 kg of potatoes and 650 kg of onions -- help top up bare cupboards for tens of thousands of Calgarians, said Shawna Ogston, communications and media relations coordinator for the food bank.

“If it weren’t for the retirees we wouldn’t be able to get fresh, healthy produce into our clients’ hands,” she said.

The Garden of Eat’n isn’t the only venture Chevron retirees are involved with. The group also cleans a six-kilometer stretch of highway southwest of Calgary once a year and hosts a monthly tea at the Carewest George Boyack continuing care centre in Calgary. The retirees also collect day-old pastries from Calgary Starbucks coffee shops for delivery to community agencies.