Waterloo Community Spotlight: The Food Bank of Waterloo Region
180 Degrees Consulting Waterloo connected with The Food Bank of Waterloo Region’s Director of Development, Kim Wilhelm to discuss the organization’s various initiatives, mission and impact in the community.
What does The Food Bank of the Waterloo Region do?
The organization has two parts. The Food Bank of Waterloo collects, sorts, and stores fresh and nutritious food through their Saving Fresh. Feeding Community. program and Fresh Approaches Food Centre program. They connect with various restaurants, food distributors, government commodities and the community as a whole to provide people in need with the best food possible.
After collection, the food is distributed through The Community Assistance Network, consisting of different agencies and community partners that serve to families and individuals in need. The food they provide reaches people through food hampers, at community shelters, community meal programs, and more.
What is their impact?
The Food Bank is committed to their mission of providing food to anyone who needs it. The Food Bank currently has over 100 different partners in their Community Assistance Network that include shelters like House of Friendship or emergency hampers like one at Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region. In 2019 alone, they distributed over 2 million kilograms of food throughout Southwestern Ontario and they served around 35,000 individuals in need.
But The Food Bank of the Waterloo Region recognizes that food banks are a temporary solution and it doesn’t solve the root cause of poverty or food insecurity. The organization hopes that the government will do their part to help end the food security crisis that is happening in our communities.
How has the pandemic affected The Food Bank of the Waterloo Region?
Adjusting and adapting multiple times a day has been key. With over 100 partners it’s not a one size fits all. They’ve had to reduce the number of people on site and reduce certain programs to focus on the most important ones. Prior to the pandemic, people would be able to come and pick up their food — now the organization and network has adapted to increase delivery services to adapt to social distancing protocols. On top of all these limitations, there’s been a 300% increase in those needing the services. Regardless, The Food Bank is working incredibly hard to ensure that people are getting the food that they need in the safest ways possible.
What is next?
The Food Bank is prepared to go to a new normal after the pandemic. There’s no plan to completely revert things back to the way they worked pre-pandemic.
Long-term they will be dealing with fallout of the pandemic and anticipate the increased demand won’t go away. They will continue to ensure that everyone gets food! In the future, the focus will be to continue to get people fresh and healthy food and hopefully continue to develop their delivery system.
What can you do to help?
The best way to support The Food Bank is through a donation! Just $20 per month will provide 2 healthy meals for a child every day for a year. You can also donate food and volunteer at the bank directly. Checkout the The FoodBank of Waterloo Region website for more information.
Thank you again to Kim for connecting with us for our campaign!