Archive for February, 2010

The Community Potato Lunch is just days away!

February 24, 2010

Throughout the past month people in our community have united for a common cause: potatoes. They have donated their time, money, and spuds and the House of Friendship is hosting a complimentary potato lunch to say thank you for all of the support and to celebrate as a community the success of the 2010 February Potato Blitz.

The free lunch will be held on Friday, February 26th, from 12 p.m to 1 p.m at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Kitchener. Donations will be gratefully accepted.

I spoke with Sandra (Food Services Coordinator) this morning, and got a sneak peek at some of the potato recipes her cooking team (Gwen, Walter, Kelly Daly, Mark and Claudia Francescutti and myself-so far) will be preparing on Friday morning:

-broccoli topped potatoes
-potato leek soup
-roasted red pepper soup

-potato cakes with salsa
-two kinds of chili-regular and vegetarian!

“Everyone works really hard to make the Potato Lunch a success- the cooks, the dining room people, and the clean-up crew. Also, if it weren’t for  Eby Village tenants there woudn’t be all the extras like veggie trays and buttered buns. Everyone’s out there on Friday in support and I’m just so glad because we couldn’t do it if we didn’t have the people that we do!”
-Sandra Wall,  HoF Food Services Coordinator

Kelly Daly from Home Depot & HoF Staff

 So come on out and enjoy the fruits of all that hard work !  We look forward to seeing anyone and everyone!

The dirt on potatoes

February 23, 2010

Did You Know?

-The potato became  the first food ever grown in outer space in 1995 on the Space Shuttle Columbia.

-Potatoes are the 4th most important crop in the world, following only corn, wheat, and rice.

-Potatoes produce more nutritious food more quickly, on less land, and in harsher climates than any other major crop.

-Potatoes are a versatile, cost-efficient, staple vegetable that pretty much everyone needs/wants. People all over the world eat potatoes, regardless of culture or background.

-Potatoes are rich in carbohydrates, which make them a good source of energy. They also contain vitamins and minerals that are vital to human nutrition.

– A single medium-sized potato contains about half the recommended daily intake of vitamin C and twice the amount of potassium as in one banana.

-The fiber content of a potato with skin is equivalent to that of many whole grain breads, pastas and cereals.

Why are potatoes so important to the House of Friendship?

In 2009, the House of Friendship used 24,000 lbs of potatoes to pack Christmas food hampers10,000 lbs in meals at the men’s hostel, and  in excess of 110,000 lbs of potatoes through the Emergency Food Hamper Program.

 According to Canada’s Food Guide, the average person should consume 7 servings of Vegetables and Fruit per day. At the Emergency Food Hamper Program, for example, potatoes play an integral role in providing patrons with their daily requirement of fruits and vegetables when they receive a food hamper. The chart below shows the  difference (on average) of having potatoes in a hamper for the daily vegetable servings based on the food guide recommendations.

  Number of days that an average HoF food hamper would meet Canada’s Food Guide vegetables and fruit recommendations
Household Size When Potatoes are Included When Potatoes are   Not Available
1 person 9.7 5.5
2 person 5.6 3.7
3 person 6.3 3.5
4 person 5.3 3.2

As you can see, if potatoes were not available for distribution in an average  emergency food hamper, there would be a significant decrease in the amount of vegetable servings available to individuals and families in need. It’s important to keep in mind however, that every day at the Emergency Food Hamper Program is very different depending upon the season, donations, demand, and other factors, which means that sometimes the serving amounts can be much higher, or much lower, than the averages presented above.

Whichever way you look at it, the humble potato is a healthy diet choice, and an important part of House of Friendship’s food assistance programs.


Ready,set,GO…to Supermarket Day this Saturday!

February 19, 2010

Just this week, on Tuesday, the HoF Emergency Food Hamper Program distributed more food hampers than ever before in its 60 year history. A total of 278 households, ranging from individuals to families of 6 or more, visited the 807 Guelph Street location for emergency food assistance the day after Monday’s holiday. Unfortunately, this high level of demand is not an isolated anomaly but rather, a sign of the times. This past year, the Emergency Food Hamper Program saw a 16.8 per cent increase in demand, distributing a record 33, 154 food hampers, with demand still steady into 2010.

Now, more than ever, House of Friendship programs need your donations. With  this in mind, you can help  by, you guessed it, donating potatoes! Yes! Potatoes!

In Potato Blitz spirit we asked patrons of the program how important receiving potatoes in their hamper was to them. Here are some of their responses:

HoF volunteer hamper packer moves past the potato bin. This bin must be re-filled repeatedly throughout an average day at the Emergency Food Hamper Program.

“I can eat [potatoes] every day. They are good protein, with lots of vitamins, carbs and energy. For me, they are filling, and not getting them in my hamper makes a big difference for me.”
-single male patron

“We don’t use the program often, but when we do, I always need the potatoes. They are something I get when I go grocery shopping. They go further than other items in the hamper-3 mashed potatoes are more filling that a box of KD.”
-mother of family of four

“I always, always, need potatoes. They’re very important, my hamper doesn’t last as long without them.”
-single female patron

“They are high in potassium which is really important for my body.”
-female patron with liver disease

Why not plan your grocery shopping (and donating) around the House of Friendship’s Supermarket Potato Blitz this weekend!

Tomorrow, Saturday February 20th, between 10:00am and 3:00 pm volunteers from nine local churches will be at the doors of supermarkets across KW collecting potatoes and donations in support of  House of Friendship programs, such as the Emergency Food Hamper Program.

Supermarket Blitz 2009 Zehrs Beechwood

So, please, stop by our Blitz! You can donate your potatoes and/or cash at any of these locations:

Central Fresh Market
Zehrs – Beechwood
Zehrs – Pioneer Mall
Zehr’s – Glenridge Mall
Zehrs – Conestoga Mall
Zehrs – Stanley Park Mall
Food Basics – Fairway Rd
Sobeys – Columbia
Sobeys – Highland Rd.
Sobeys – Bridgeport Rd.
Sobeys – Weber & Northfield

Also, if you can’t make it this weekend, donations can be made at the Emergency Food Hamper Program, 807 Guelph St., Kitchener, (Mon.- Fri., 9am-4pm), at the Charles Street Men’s Hostel, 63 Charles St., E., Kitchener (anytime) or mailed to House of Friendship, PO Box 1837, Kitchener N2G 4R3.

Food for thought: How important are potatoes in your diet?

Record breaking Don Cameron Potato Night

February 16, 2010

The voice of the Kitchener Rangers made the call and Kitchener Rangers fans answered!

Tony Bender and volunteer Doug Sullivan

This year’s Don Cameron Potato Night, held on Tuesday January 26th, brought in a combined total of more than 52, 000 lbs of potatoes- the most ever collected through the event! The combination of potatoes, cash donations and a 2,000 lb potato donation from Loblaw Companies Ltd. represents just over 30% of this year’s goal of 170, 000 lbs of potatoes! What a wonderful way to kick-off House of Friendships 15th Annual Potato Blitz!

Rangers Fan and Lori

“We asked Rangers fans to help feed our neighbours in need at an especially difficult time for many, and they responded with their hearts and their wallets…”
-Don Cameron

“…Rangers fans were filling the potato bins faster than we could empty them”
-Tony Bender, HoF Community Services Director

All this was made possible because of the Kitchener Rangers and their fans, Loblaw, media sponsors, House of Friendship’s volunteer crew and of course, Don Cameron.  As John Neufeld, our Executive Director, put it: “This truly was a team effort, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the results.”Thank you!

The Potato Night potatoes arrived at the Emergency Food Hamper program  on January 27th, and have been helping to feed local families in need of food assistance over the past few weeks.

Again, thank you everyone for your compassion, generosity, and amazing energy! If you were there,please share your experience. We’d love to hear from you just leave a comment below!

To learn more about the February Potato Blitz, or to get involved, please visit or contact either Tony Bender or Christine Rier at 519-742-8327.

Give me a P-O-T-A-T-O! Potato!!!

February 9, 2010

It is officially Potato Season! The annual February Potato Blitz is here and there’s no looking back. This little month is actually one of the most important of the year- it has the weight of 170, 000 lbs of potatoes riding on its shoulders! That’s because House of Friendship will use over 34 truck loads full of potatoes in its 18 programs this year, and we are hoping to collect all of it (cross your fingers) through the events being held this month.  

Not only will the potatoes collected during the Potato Blitz be used up well before they spoil (the Emergency Food Hamper program distributed 36,425 lbs of potatoes in the first three months of 2009 alone), but we will also be able to purchase potatoes year-round with the cash donations received. Thanks to a special partnership with a local farm we are able to purchase potatoes at a fixed low rate. This allows, for example, five dollars to be stretched to provide approximately 10 people with 5lbs of potatoes each.:)

I, myself, am looking forward to this year’s Potato Blitz, especially since it is my first! I’ve been the Social Service Intern since May and I’ve heard all about the February program from Tony and Christine, but it’s finally time for me to experience it first hand!

So far, they haven’t wasted any time with my initiation:  


Yup, that’s me in the bow tie…