Hi everyone, my name is Erin and I’m the new intake worker here at the House of Friendship’s Emergency Food Hamper program. Let me introduce myself. I just graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University, and after taking five years to complete my degree I’m happy to be out of an academic setting. I’m an avid community gardener, and I’m interested in food security issues in Waterloo Region, Ontario, and beyond. I’m also interested in the politics of food security; how decisions made in government affect people’s everyday lives, and how they affect access to such a fundamental necessity as food.
I’d like to share some of my impressions after one week at the Emergency Food Hamper program. First of all, I’m overwhelmed by the friendly atmosphere created by staff and volunteers at the House of Friendship. So far I’ve enjoyed every day at work, and I’ve felt welcomed onto the team. It’s humbling to be working with some volunteers who have been here for five years, or over a decade. I knew coming into the position that the Food Hamper program was volunteer-based, but I continue to be surprised by the sheer volume of people that donate their time on a regular basis. I can see why they do it too, the people here are great to be around.
I’m also happy to be lucky enough to work for a program that is in line with my values, and whose philosophy I can firmly support. Through my training it has been repeatedly affirmed that the Emergency Food Hamper program is based on trust; if people come in to receive food, we trust that they need the food. There are no extensive background checks and we limit the amount of personal questions people must answer. When people living on low income seek aid—in the form of food or other resources—the process is often accompanied by feelings of shame or low self worth. This program tries to make the experience one of respect, and limit the stigma attached to seeking food aid.
I’m looking forward to continuing to share my experiences on this blog as I learn more about the program and about local food issues. I know the next few months especially are going to be a learning experience, and I’m anticipating a fulfilling journey. If you come into the program as a volunteer, donator of goods, or a consumer, I look forward to meeting you!