Archive for June, 2010

Volunteer Spotlight – Mark Bucholtz

June 29, 2010

Working Monday to Friday, many professionals have a difficult time finding extra time in their schedule to give time to another organization. However, Mark has been able to commit 2 days a week to volunteer with our program. He delivers hampers mainly to patrons who have mobility and health issues. He has been giving his time and kilometres for 7-8 years. (more…)

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If only they knew…

June 25, 2010

“If people only knew how to cook, then a lot of them wouldn’t need to come to the food bank, they’d be able to get by on their limited budget – food is cheap…some people on welfare don’t even know how to boil water!”

Believe it or not, this is a common sentiment expressed by people when I’m talking to them about the many people who struggle to put food on their table each day.  People have said all of the above to me at many points in my travels.

There is a widespread belief that a lot of the problems low income people face each day are of their own creation.  Education is held up as one of the big solutions to their problems. This is partly true for many people, and on a certain level it makes sort of sense in general terms. However, as with many articles of “common sense”, there is fiction mixed in with a few grains of truth. (more…)

Volunteer Spotlight – Rupert “Rubarb” Anderson

June 23, 2010

Another long time volunteer comes in regularly, and starts the day with his chipper greeting in the warehouse, “Morning everybody!”.  The expected repsonse is, “Morning Rupert!” If there isn’t a response, we will be greeted  again until we answer. This ritual is part of our daily culture, and it wouldn’t be the same around here if we didn’t have Rupert’s greeting to look forward to. (more…)

School’s out for the summer!

June 18, 2010

Thanks to our friends at Service Canada, we are once again going to have the funding for two paid staff positions during the last half of the summer.  As a condition of the funding, we could only hire students who are returning to full time schooling in the fall, and who are under 30 years of age.  Each summer we benefit from their fresh perspective, insight and talent, and wish that we didn’t have to say goodbye when August comes to a close (and they have to go back to school).

This year we are pleased to welcome Lianna and Lucas!

What can they expect to do as a summer student at the Emergency Food Hamper Program?  Well, there will be a few thousand hampers that need packing, several tonnes of food to be sorted, a few thousand intakes to be conducted, and one or two special projects to be completed.

They’ll have a lot of help, of course, from our volunteers and staff, so they won’t have to go it alone and pack those thousands of hampers by themselves. By the end of the summer, they will likely be expert puzzle solvers as they fit lots of different food items together into small and odd sized hamper boxes.

Lianna has a lot of experience working for Habitat for Humanity, and Lucas has worked/volunteered with a few local nonprofits (including our friends at St. Johns) and entrepreneurial ventures exploring the potential of technology for nonprofits.

Look forward to many blog posts, over the coming weeks, from these two. We’re all really looking forward to working with them this summer.

Volunteer Spotlight – Pearl

June 15, 2010

Last week, I got the chance to speak with Pearl while she was working in the warehouse. You can rely on her to get the task done, for example, packaging our rice. She is very organized, and she does an outstanding  job getting this important staple ready for our patrons. It’s something she takes pride in doing when she comes in to volunteer twice a week.  You can also find her tidying the clothing donations when she’s here. She gets along well with everyone, and she makes you feel welcome.  Pearl is always cheery, I usually see her smiling and joking when she’s in the warehouse. Anton, one of our drivers,  needs to watch out when he pulls Pearl’s apron strings though… She can be a little mischievous, in a fun playful way. Here’s a little bit more about our wonderful Pearl… (more…)

A New Face at House of Friendship

June 11, 2010

Hi Friends,

My name is Allison Neufeld, and I am the new Social Services Intern here at House of Friendship!

So this is my first post as the new intern, and it serves as a bit of an introduction. I would like to say from the outset of this post, thank you to everyone that I’ve already met! In the month or so since I started here, I have felt so welcomed and showered with kindness. House of Friendship employees and volunteers alike have come alongside me as I stumbled (and continue to stumble) through the initial learning curve that accompanies a new job and I am so grateful for this. (more…)

Volunteer Spotlight – Lori McDonough

June 8, 2010

At the end of April, this volunteer’s confidence was impressive. Lori had her volunteer orientation.  Usually after the orientation, our volunteers come back on another day for their first full shift. However, Lori stayed, was trained on how to pack a food box  then  packed emergency food hampers for the rest of her shift. This is rare occurence, but none the less, amazing to see! She appeared to feel at home immediately. If we are short on volunteers Lori has come in, on a moment’s notice.  She is super hard working, easy going, and we are grateful to have her on our team. It’s hard to believe Lori’s only been here a month. (more…)

Volunteer Spotlight – Dorian

June 2, 2010

When Dorian volunteers, she is hard to keep up with. She is always on the move! Once a week she voluteers and packs emergency food hampers of food for our patrons. If she’s not packing hampers, you will find her working on another task in the warehouse. Dorian moved to Canada 3 years ago with her family. She has been with us for 2.5 years. Dorian is originally from Colombia.  In my best attempt, I am going to use  my very rusty Spanish  to translate Dorian’s story from Spanish to English. Therefore, this will be in both languages.  As well, I must thank my coworker Salvador, who has been kind enough to edit my Spanish. (more…)

Nothing is unusual here….

June 2, 2010

In the two years (and counting…) that I’ve been working here I’ve been introduced to many unusual foods such as lychee, rapini, jicamas, cactus or prickly pears, and carambola. Though these items are unusual to me, it’s hard for our program to really label any food unusual. No matter what the food is, there are always patrons that recognize and enjoy each “unusual” item.

Being exposed to these new and “unusual” foods is one thing I definitely enjoy about my position as an Intake Worker here. I believe that had I not accepted this opportunity, I would never have been exposed to learning about or given the opportunity to try many of these unusual items. But thankfully I’ve been given the chance to learn about many new foods through lessons by our patrons, and Matt has given me the task of food promotion to teach others about these foods as well.

Food promotion is a task that I have been working on for a few months now. The idea is to encourage patrons to try less commonly known foods by providing them an informative poster of the item and recipe suggestions. The poster describes what the food item is, a picture of the item, where it comes from, what it tastes like, nutrition, storage and briefly some ideas on how to use the food item. Many patrons appreciate the posters as it helps give them a vague idea of what to expect, but take the recipe suggestions as a reminder of how to use the item when they get home.

Offering or promoting “unusual” foods happens in one of two ways. These items are either placed in our lobby for people to help themselves to; or offered in a hamper on our call out window. At either spot, staff and volunteers do their best to ensure each patron has a chance to decide whether or not they would like to take this item home with them and a little gentle encouragement to try a small amount of the food if they’re unsure.

To describe this process a little bit better, here’s an example. We recently received approximately 1500 pounds of pot barley from the Food Bank. Thanks to a lot of volunteer effort, the pot barley has been bagged into 500 gram packages to be offered to patrons on our call out window. For those of you who don’t know what pot barley is, here’s a picture:

This picture is part of the poster that has been placed by our call out window to give patrons an idea of what this “unusual” item is. Here’s a brief overview of the information on the poster to help inform patrons on pot barley:
– Pot barley is a type of cereal grain.
– Originated in Ethiopia and Southeast Asia, but is grown in over 100 countries.
– Has a more flavourful and more chewy texture than white rice, but a more subtle taste than brown rice.
– Good source of phosphorus; niacin; calcium; vitamins A and E; copper; magnesium; and manganese.
– Can be cooked in a similar way to rice.
– Good for soups and stews; or hot or cold in a salad.

Since this “unusual” item has been placed on our call out window the volunteers who diligently pack many food hampers each day are asked to inquire if patrons are interested in barley. Many people are unfamiliar with how to cook barley; so this is where our recipe suggestions come in handy to encourage the patrons to try this new and “unusual” food. One recipe suggestion we gave was how to make a salad:

Simmer 1 cup barley for 45 minutes in 4 cups soup stock. Mix in ½ cup chicken, herbs (of your choice), ½ cup steamed broccoli, and the juice of a lemon. Enjoy!

For each recipe suggestion I try to minimize the amount of other ingredients that may be needed to make the dish, or try to incorporate some of the regular donations our program receives such as squash, carrots, or broccoli. Hopefully by doing this it makes it easier and more enjoyable for people to take these extra items to stretch their hamper in a few new ways.

My recipe suggestions aren’t the only food promotion source though. Many times patrons will look oddly at an “unusual” food in our lobby, and after exclaiming “what is this thing?!” another patron will explain the taste and nutrition of the unusual food. Although this doesn’t always lead to both patrons leaving with the food item; it gives patrons a chance to share the cultural value of this food and their culinary experiences to take away some of the mystery in this new or less commonly known food for other patrons.