Archive for February, 2013

The anonymous knitting Grandma strikes again!

February 28, 2013

Back in September, a woman came in to the food hamper program and saw a big bag of yarn that we had behind the desk. Her eyes lit up, and she quickly asked if she could bring it to her grandmother, who loved to knit. We said sure, and she went on her way.

mittens pic

A few weeks later the woman came back with mittens and hats her grandmother had knit with the yarn. Her grandmother had wanted the yarn so she could knit winter items to donate back to us. According to her granddaughter, this woman knits with any yarn available and donates what she makes to charitable organizations, who can give the items to families in need.

sweater pic

A few months after her first donation, anonymous knitting Grandma is going strong! We’ve probably received over 100 items from her, mostly in the form of hats and mittens, but also the occasional sweater and scarf. It means a lot to us and the people who come in that she puts so much time and love into her products. Parents of small children especially get excited when they find her stuff on our shelves.

Thank you, grandma, for taking the time to keep kids in Waterloo Region warm, and to all our food and clothing donors!

Volunteer Spotlight: Iris

February 13, 2013

Iris photo

Iris is a Bachelor of Social Work placement student along with Rana and is here to the end of June. I took a quick opportunity to chat with her and find out more about someone who is going to be here for a while. She and her husband have been in the K-W area for over two years now and are from Fergus and Hamilton respectively. She’s willing to do anything we throw her way, from learning intake, to packing hampers, to other warehouse jobs. She and Rana are both doing the ten month Bachelor of Social work through the University of Waterloo. She has been a quick study and is picking up a lot!

How did you hear about House of Friendship?

I found out about the House of Friendship through the University of Waterloo placement fair. The House of Friendship was one of two placements I was offered and I chose the House of Friendship because of the variety of services offered and how long it has been around for. It’s pretty amazing that the House of Friendship has been around since 1939.

What do you enjoy about volunteering at the EFHP?

I enjoy meeting all the volunteers and staff members. This has been a great place to learn about the face of poverty in Waterloo region.

What’s your favourite job at our program?

I really enjoy doing intake and finding out about the needs of the program participants. I like learning about the need for Emergency food services.

 How has volunteering impacted your life?

It affected about my perceptions of need. I didn’t realize how much need there was in the community. It really made me appreciate what supports I have.

Are there any other programs that your or have volunteered with?

I’m at the Kingsdale community centre. I also work in the food distribution program there, participate in groups and am involved in community outreach as well.

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

I enjoy watching movies, especially documentaries. Right now I’m watching Being Elmo. I also cycle and go cross country skiing in the winter. I love to travel and experience new cultures.

Thanks so much Iris for taking a moment out of busy schedule to chat with me. It was really nice to find out more about you, since you’re here every Wednesday. We really appreciate all your hard work and dedication to the Emergency Food Hamper Program. We also appreciate your willingness to learn and get your hands dirty.

Why does Waterloo Region need a food charter?

February 8, 2013

Before I started working at the Emergency Food Hamper program, I was very passionate about and involved with local food initiatives. I love community gardening and urban agriculture, going to the farmer’s market, and supporting local farmers. I’m still passionate about all of these things, but more and more I’m noticing that people on low income often don’t have the luxury of supporting local or organic food initiatives. Local and/or organic food is often more expensive and less convenient to purchase and prepare than conventional or processed food from the grocery store. I started doing research on the price of nutritious food versus how much a family makes on Ontario Works or even working a minimum wage job. I started to doubt whether supporting affordable nutritious food for people on low income and supporting local farmers were even compatible goals.


Because of my change in perspective, I was very interested when the Waterloo Region Food Roundtable, a group of citizens and people in the food industry who talk about food issues in the region, drafted a food charter. Waterloo Region Public Health started the roundtable in 2005, and their mission is to champion a vibrant and healthy local food system. They do this through networking and policy-making. 18 people sit on the roundtable and are from a variety of sectors, from the local farming community, to advocates for those living on low income, to academics and public health professionals. The idea is that if you get many people who involved in the local food system together around a table, you can have better conversations about local food issues leading to more sustainable and comprehensive food policies.