2010 and a new year at the Food Hamper Hamper Program

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January is almost over, and it is still hard to get used to the idea that we are now well into 2011 and 2010 is soon to be ancient history.  The end of  2010 was business as usual for us here – full of donations, volunteers and people in need of our help.  And, the first bit of 2011 is no different!

We’re still in the process of finalizing our end of year program statistics, but I can say now that we distributed 32,041 boxes of emergency food between January and December 2010.   This is less than the previous year, but not by a very large margin.

Look for a more detailed post breaking down last years numbers in more detail soon.

So what was 2010 like?  As we’ve detailed in this blog over the last few weeks it was filled with a lot of great volunteers, but also a lot of great donations and community good will.

To recap a little, the first three months of 2010 were very worrying for us.  Demand was strong and we gave out over 9000 hampers. People were really struggling, with many of them waiting long periods of time to get Employment Insurance benefits, desperately looking for jobs that were not appearing and hoping things would get better sometime soon. As we went through March day by day it looked like it wouldn’t let up until the end of the year.

It was in the middle of that time we setup this blog.  It was the result of a lot of work and planning by several House of Friendship staff and is some new territory for us here.  We have learned a lot and have enjoyed the opportunity to highlight the great contributions our volunteers, donors and community make to those less fortunate in Waterloo Region.

Our first posts (here) were about the Potato Blitz which was a huge success.  It’s almost time for the Blitz again, with the ever popular Don Cameron Potato Night just one week away, on Friday, January the 28th.  The events that take place during the Potato Blitz are key to ensuring that this important staple food is available for several House of Friendship programs year round.

After the Potato Blitz, the day after Family Day stands out in our memories of last year (here) as the single busiest day on record.  We served 278 families and individuals in a single day.  This year, it is possible that we may serve less people, but it is a little early to tell. This year Family Day falls later in the month, after the 20th, a day that we typically see demand for our services fall due to the issuance of the monthly child tax benefit.

Last March was the annual Hunger Count, and also the single busiest month in the history of our program. Thankfully, after March, our monthly numbers started to slip down to more manageable levels, and we started to fall behind previous years hamper distribution numbers.

Over the summer, food banks were in the news a lot, as communities across the province started to see what it would be like to try and live off a box of food from a program like us.  The STOP in Toronto kicked it off (here) and others started to follow suit, including our own Waterloo Region in an effort to get people talking and thinking about why places like us exist and the best way to put us out of the emergency food business.  As the New Year continues, more communities continue to take up the challenge.

As the summer ended and everyone went back to school, things started to pick up a bit, but not enough to bring our final number of hampers distributed over the 2009 total.  As the snow started to fall, Christmas Hampers kept us busy as we were accepting applications and fielding phone calls constantly. As we’ve already detailed Christmas Hampers was a huge success but also, busier than ever.

So what will 2011 bring?  So far demand for our services has been strong this month.  In the first five days that we were open this month we handed out 982 boxes of food and diapers.  Amazingly, this is exactly the same as the first five days of 2010.  Thankfully, the number of people coming to us each day has been fairly evenly distributed throughout the day and it hasn’t seemed as busy.  This is also thanks largely to the plentiful supply of volunteers that helps us quickly get hampers to people and minimizes wait times in our lobby.

We remain optimistic that demand for our services will start to decline a bit in the coming year.  The recession seems to be fading away and a slow recovery is starting.  It is important to note however, that our impression is that while more people are finding work, it is largely temporary and low paying.  Money for food continues to be scarce and it is not entirely clear how many debts people have picked up as they attempted to ride out their unemployment and now find themselves on programs like Ontario Works.

How can you help in the short term?  We continue to need volunteers and donations, if you would like to get involved and help your neighbours in need, click here for more details.

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2 Responses to “2010 and a new year at the Food Hamper Hamper Program”

  1. Tweets that mention 2010 and a new year at the Food Hamper Hamper Program « Hofemergencyfoodassistance's Blog -- Topsy.com Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ONPHA, House of Friendship. House of Friendship said: A year in Food Hampers @HOFKW Emergency Food Hamper Program http://bit.ly/fpeGhC #2010 #busyyear […]

  2. People helping people – the rising cost of food and House of Friendship « Hofemergencyfoodassistance's Blog Says:

    […] are rising, we are not likely to going to experience a stronger demand than we saw in 2009 or 2010. What we are anticipating is helping some of our current patrons more, and likely seeing a few new […]

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