In Canada, household food insecurity affects 1 in 6 Canadian children and over 1.6 million households experienced some level of food insecurity in 2012 (1). In the Waterloo region specifically, 6.8% of households experienced food insecurity in 2014 (2). Findings show that by addressing food insecurity through targeted policy interventions, reductions in heatlh care costs and improved overall health can be observed (1). Long-term solutions are needed in terms of income support, such that people aren’t making trade-offs for nutritional quality of their food (3). Given the large impact of food insecurity challenges, I encourage everyone this holiday season (and after) to donate their time or efforts towards providing food for all. While big leaps are needed to combat food insecurity, there are small steps that can be taken in the Waterloo region that can leave a great impact.
Here are 5 Initiatives to Participate in this Holiday Season (and into the new year!):
1.Ontario Christian Gleaners
Dedicated to gleaning, this group of volunteers passionately collects, processes, and makes available surplus agricultural produce for relief in overseas nations. Their current projects include distribution of soup production and dried fruit snacks. Volunteers assist with soup mix creation and packaging/distribution of dried fruit snacks. Financial and produce donations are also accepted. See here for more details
2. The Working Centre – St. John’s Kitchen
Working with a large volunteer force, St. John’s Kitchen feeds up to 300 people each day. The team reminds us that “people who find themselves living in poverty are often not those responsible for their impoverishment” (5). Volunteers are always needed and more information can be found here.
3.Meal Exchange – Beyond Campus Food Banks
Food insecurity among university and college students means that young adults are choosing between paying rent, buying textbooks, and eating healthy food. Beyond Campus Food Banks “promotes dignified good food access and challenge the notion that any students should have to user emergency food charity to get their education” (6). Volunteers raise awareness about the problem of student hunger and build leaders for change. More information can be found here.
4. Community Support Connections - Meals on Wheels and More
Dedicated to community care, the organization provides many services, including the Meals on Wheels program. Volunteers provide a variety of nutritious meals to those who have little access to transportation. The organization provides other programs that allow people to live independently in their homes, including care coordination, exercise programs, community dining, friendly visits, and reassurance. See here for more details.
5. The Food Bank of Waterloo Region
The Winter Food & Fund Drive accepts non-perishable food donations at local grocery stores and at the Food Bank of Waterloo Region office. Beyond the annual food drive, The Food Bank of Waterloo region provides services and community programs for outreach. Several other initiatives can be found here.
This list only begins to touch on the many active groups across the Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge region. By showing love to your community through food, we can help provide the right to food.