Waterloo Community Spotlight: Food4Kids Waterloo Region
180 Degrees Consulting Waterloo connected with Food4Kids Waterloo Region’s Founder/Executive Director, Kelly-Sue Oberle and Volunteer Coordinator and Marketing Support, Jennifer Birnstihl to discuss the organization’s various initiatives, mission and impact in the community.
What does Food4Kids Waterloo Region Do?
Food4Kids Waterloo Region provides packages of healthy and nutritious food for children between the ages of 1–14 with chronic hunger. They deliver food to schools to send home to students in need each weekend and a hamper style/grocery cart style for everyday during school breaks.
The Food4Kids WR’s program is based on 3 distinct pillars:
What is Food4Kids Waterloo Region’s Impact?
The organization originally had a goal to feed 750 kids during the 2020–2021 school year. Due to the pandemic, Food4Kids WR is currently feeding 860 kids on weekends and daily during school breaks. They are currently providing the food through their partnerships with approximately 40 schools in the region.
Kelly-Sue also recalls a time when she briefly encountered a young boy who was fed through the organization. He recognized the Food4Kids logo on her car and was very thankful to have food provided by the organization and he didn’t feel left out from his friends who were buying food elsewhere. They also have many dedicated volunteers who have remained dedicated to the cause even during the difficulties of the pandemic.
How has the pandemic affected Food4Kids Waterloo Region?
The beginning of the pandemic proved to be a challenging time for the organization but they were able to adapt to the situation. First they were challenged with how they were going to feed the kids during their extended March break in 2020 and how they would need to adapt to the subsequent lockdowns. The organization was still committed to feeding kids on weekends regardless of school closings to make sure they were getting the meals they need.
Due to social distancing protocols, they managed to transform their traditional delivery service by putting drop-off bins at schools or apartments, and even teachers and principals were making deliveries to their students themselves. Through the work of the community and their dedicated volunteers, Food4Kids WR is able to maintain their services in the region.
What can you do to help and why is it important?
Food4Kids WR’s mission is dedicated to eliminate food insecurity from children in the community. This is a major public health problem as there is a link between an individual’s health and their well-being. The organization is accepting donations and you can even plan fundraising events on their behalf. There are also many volunteering opportunities, with 80–100 volunteers assisting Food4Kids WR weekly. To find more information on how to get involved with their organization and volunteer opportunities, check out their website here.
Once again, thank you to Kelly-Sue and Jennifer for taking time out to speak to us!