HG Watson

Charles Dickens once wrote that charity begins at home. That’s exactly where The Food Bank of Waterloo Region wants you to start looking to support their annual holiday food drive. The non-profit, that supports multiple local agencies, is looking for both financial donations and non-perishable goods. The CCE’s HG Watson spoke with Wendi Campbell, the executive director of The Food Bank, about their holiday goals and the community they serve

HGW: What are your fundraising goals for this holiday season?

WC: Our main goal is a financial one this year. It’s kind of a combo. We’re trying to raise more than $500,000 and more than 200 lbs of food. We’re asking the community to stuff the stocking with food support by making a financial donation to the food bank, that helps us with all of the costs involved in acquiring and distributing food to 78 community programs.

HGW: When you distribute the food, does The Food Bank do it or does it go to different shelters and agencies?

WC: We’re the distribution centre for Waterloo Region; we’re actually a distribution centre for southwest Ontario as well. In Waterloo Region, we are the main source of food for 78 community programs. That includes food hampers; shelters and out reach programs; and community meal programs.

HGW: Do you have a program for getting fresh food to people?

WC: We do have a fresh foods program, but we really need the community to donate those non-perishable items. It’s easier logistically; it’s just much more manageable for organizations running food drives to do the non-perishable piece. But we do have a number of fresh food programs that we operate. We have a larger freezer and cooler capacity in the building. Agencies are picking up fresh and frozen food every week with their orders. We also have a perishable delivery program; it’s a refrigerated truck that is on the road every day doing fresh food pick up and delivery directly to agencies.

HGW: How great is the need in this area?

WC: 26,800 different people accessed some sort of emergency service last year. We’re seeing an increase in the number of working poor that are accessing services as the job market continues to fluctuate. Although people are finding employment, it’s part-time, unstable employment so they are still unable to make ends meet

HGW: Do you make calls for other household goods?

WC: We aren’t asking the community for that. The big push is for the top five food items, which are peanut butter; canned meat; cold cereal; canned fruit and vegetables. [We want] those types of non-perishables so we can balance our inventory.

We do distribute a number of consumer goods and supplies but we have a number of other sources for that. We really need the community for those most needed items that we don’t have corporate partners who donate. We need to balance off our inventory with that support. If anyone wants to make a financial donation for $20 we’re able to provide food for a family of four for four days. Because of those community partnerships, we’re able to leverage those dollars to ensure we’re keeping the frozen food frozen and the perishable food chilled and able to keep those trucks on the road to support those programs and the families in need in our community.

Visit thefoodbank.ca for more information about their holiday campaign.