Archive for August, 2011

Volunteer Spotlight: Wayne

August 31, 2011

Wayne has been volunteering twice a week with us since mid-July.  Since then, he has volunteered over 37 hours! Wayne originally went to school for Accounting and then onto Human Resources.  Looking for something more adventurous, Wayne began working in Corrections.  We are thankful for Wayne’s commitment to volunteering at the EFHP while he is on leave from work.

How did you hear about House of Friendship?

“I heard about House of Friendship through browsing the many volunteer websites.  I think I saw House of Friendship’s listing on the KW Action Board, and I was interested in getting involved.”

What do you enjoy about volunteering at EFHP?

“That’s a hard one because I enjoy so much about what I do here.  I love the opportunity to meet so many different people.  It has been great to get to know the many volunteers and staff here.  I also love the fast-paced environment because it keeps me up and moving about.”

 What’s your favourite job at our program?

“What don’t I like?  I love packing the hampers because it is go, go, go.  I also love just the conversations that I am able to have with the hamper recipients and the other volunteers.  I should also mention my frequent visits to the parking lot to collect the hamper carts!”

 How has volunteering impacted your life?

“Volunteering makes me appreciate what I have, and what I can be grateful for.  It gives me an appreciation for helping others, and how important that is.  It doesn’t get much better than this!”

 Are there any other programs that you are or have volunteered with?

“I have volunteered at a number of other programs.  I have volunteered at other food assistance programs like the Waterloo Region Food Bank and a local community centre’s food hamper program.  I have also acted as a volunteer probation officer for Provincial Corrections.”

 What kind of activities or hobbies do you enjoy when you aren’t working or volunteering?

“I love my sports!  I love just about all sports including hockey, baseball, boxing, UFC and football.  I enjoy working out and going on hikes.  I also enjoy playing video games and watching movies when I want to just relax.  All in all, I just like to keep fit and have fun!”

Thank you for your commitment to volunteering at House of Friendship!  It has been great to get to know you through your time here.  Thanks for taking the time to tell us a little more about yourself outside the EFHP!

Right to Food

August 26, 2011

Most people will have heard of the United Nations.  Especially if you watch the news.  I’m not sure if as many people will have heard of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.   Even fewer have probably heard of the Rome Declaration on Food Security and the Declaration of the Rights of the Child.

What are these documents and what do they mean?  In a perfect world they commit the countries that have signed them (which Canada has) to address the needs of their residents and ensure that their human rights are protected and promoted.

What are human rights?  That’s a big question.  I encourage you to read through the links above and try and get a handle on how important they are.  Ones that you may be familiar with are freedom of expression, freedom of thought and freedom of opinion.  These are the rights that we all enjoy in Canada every day. You enjoy them every day you open a newspaper, talk to your neighbours about politics and make choices on who to vote for and how you live your life.

Is food a human right?  It’s pretty hard to live your life without food.  Of all the human rights, food is one of biggest and most important.  It is difficult to enjoy your other rights if you’re starving.

If you read this blog, a newspaper or watch the news, you will probably realize that these documents are all great on paper, but in practice we’ve still got a long haul ahead of us as a Country and a global community. We say we’re committed to overcoming hunger, but yet there are still many people who go to bed hungry everyday: in this country and across the world.

The above picture is taken from one of the nineteen artists that contributed to the “Just Food” exhibit that is being displayed through the support and faith inspired efforts of the Mennonite Central Committee Ontario (MCCO). Some of you may be aware of this exhibit, since it’s been open since early July. But if you have yet to go, it’s not too late! The exhibit will be available until September 27 at Conrad Grebel University College anytime Monday to Friday between 9am to 7pm, or through alternative arrangements. (Click here for a map to the college.)

The inspiration for this event is to encourage people to remember that though we’ve stated hunger is not acceptable in many formal documents, we’ve still got a long way to go to make this a reality.

“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food.” – Article 25 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Food is a central part of our lives: it’s part of survival and it’s also something that is often prepared to bring people together in celebration. Though as human beings we need to eat to survive, in today’s society we’re not always guaranteed access to affordable and nutritious food for various reasons.

Food banks are living proof of this: once a temporary solution to overcome (what was thought to be) a short-term problem, many of these programs need to expand their warehouses to keep up with the demands of service that they face each week, day and year. Things have yet to get better as many Canadians continue to struggle to meet their daily needs, or encounter unexpected circumstances that throw their life and finances for a loop.

To give you a better idea as to how high our numbers have been, and show some of the factors that may be contributing to high demands for food assistance, lets look at some of the statistics about food banks.

  • In the last twenty years our program hasn’t served under 20 000 hampers each year.
  • Each year our program assists approximately 9 500 households with food. (And we only cover Kitchener-Waterloo. To see a list with some of the Cambridge food assistance programs, click here.)
  • We are one of over 70 member agencies of the Food Bank of Waterloo Region, which means that there are a lot of agencies responding to the communities need for food assistance.
  • Approximately half the households who we provided food to last year relied on Ontario works (OW) or Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) as a source of income. People working full-time, part-time, or odd jobs followed as the next highest group at approximately 16 percent.

So hopefully you can take a break to visit the hunger exhibit. Because as it’s recently been said, and will be said again, hunger and food banks are something that need to come to an end. (To read an article about closing food banks, click here.) Your effort to become more educated is one of the first steps to making this happen; and this event is a fun way to take that first step.

In the coming weeks we will share a few more of the stories of the people who have turned to us for a helping hand. In the meantime, enjoy the food for thought at Conrad Grebel.

We want your two cents

August 25, 2011

On our blog we often talk about situations where people are struggling to meet their basic needs, or food insecure. It’s unfortunately a common situation that many people are forced to face each day. However there really isn’t a common definition – so what does it mean to be food insecure?

If you do a Google search you’ll get a large volume of results. Many people have various interpretations and thoughts on what this term means or how to describe what it’s like to be in this situation.

Recently a staff at Oxam America posted the statement “Food security means _______” on their Facebook and Twitter page to encourage people to comment with their interpretations. Many people came up with various thoughts and ideas to fill in the blank, which you can read by clicking here.

Since this is such an important and interesting term I thought it could be really interesting to hear from our readers. What are your creative expressions to fill in the blank here? Please don’t be shy!