Guest post: support equal access to healthy food!


Today is the first day of House of Friendship’s 2013 ’12 Days for Good’ social campaign to pay forward all of the generous volunteer support we receive for Christmas Hampers and Turkey Drive.  If you haven’t checked it out, please do so:, and count yourself in.

To provide some inspiration, each of the 12 days has a theme. Today, it is Equality.  To HOF this simply means to at all times and in all places, treat each other equally, with impartiality, and to enjoy full equality of opportunity, rights and responsibilities necessary to belong and thrive in our community.

When I think of equality one of the first things that comes to mind is access to food. Candace, a volunteer at HOF’s Emergency Food Hamper program said it best recently, “Food is a basic necessity and there should be no shame in asking for help for it.”  She goes on to say that she believes food is a human right and sees her volunteerism, and the Emergency Food Hamper program, as people helping people help themselves. To me, it’s about giving people the equal opportunity to meet their basic needs; a widening income gap is undermining their access to food.

If you agree, then you’ll be interested to know that Regional Council is currently reviewing its initial budget/funding plans for 2014; specifically, it is considering a draft budget prepared by Regional staff.  That proposal includes a suggestion to cut food hamper funding for this region by more than 50% in 2014, from $700,000 this year to $300,000 next year (this is for the entire food hamper network, including HOF’s Emergency Food Hamper program). Last year, food hamper funding for the Region was cut by 11%. Meanwhile, demand for food assistance across the Region rose by 5%, which resulted in 35,000 people in our community receiving food assistance this past year (1 in 20 Households).

The proposed budget cut to $300,000 would cripple the local food assistance network that has taken years to build and is one of the most effective and innovative in Canada.  House of Friendship’s Emergency Food Hamper program, the largest provider within this network (feeding over 21,000 people annually, 1/3 children), would be devastated, and thousands of families would be adversely effected.

House of Friendship along with fellow local food assistance agencies (Wilmot Family Resource Centre, Woolwich Community Services, Salvation Army, Cambridge Self Help Food Bank, and The Food Bank of Waterloo Region) will be presenting on the proposed funding cut at a Regional Council meeting this Wednesday, December 11th, 6PM at Regional Council Chambers (150 Frederick St., 2nd Flr, Kitchener). 

By the way, December 11th is the third day of HOF’s ’12 days for good’, and the theme just happens to be: ‘Nutrition – to give and receive nourishment, food and sustenance, for stomachs, hearts, minds and spirits.’

 I can think of no better way to live out this theme than to speak up for the individuals and families we serve, who rely on our local food assistance network for their nutrition.

Please join me and HOF on the 11th at Regional Council Chambers, and support access to food and our local food assistance network.


John Neufeld

Executive Director

House of Friendship


One Response to “Guest post: support equal access to healthy food!”

  1. Day 3: Nutrition for spirit, mind & body | Perspectives from James Howe Says:

    […] a key message I’ll deliver tonight to Regional Council. John Neufeld, Excecutive Director of the House of Friendship, and many others will do the same since…. More on that […]

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