Archive for August, 2015

You Say Zucchini, I say Courgette, and Darwin Says Cucurbita Pepo

August 20, 2015

[Khadija, Summer Special Projects Assistant at House of Friendship’s Emergency Food Hamper Program, wrote the following.]

Summer – aside from being the season for sticky popsicles and pool parties- is also a time for an abundance of produce at the farmer’s market. Like zucchini! Today I dig up some very worthy praise for this wonderful, and plentiful, vegetable.Zucchini is good for you, for many different sciencey reasons, including:

  1. It is low in cholesterol
  2. Some Vitamins in zucchini help lower blood pressure
  3. Vitamins C and A in Zucchini are key nutrients to maintain health
  4. High levels of magnesium and folate from zucchini reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke
  5. Zucchini also provides you with lutein and zeaxanthin- two phytonutrients which are needed for healthy eyesight!

Zucchinis in the lobby!

Zucchinis come in many shapes and sizes—most of ours come from a community farm in the GTA that grows vegetables for us and other food programs. At this time of year we distribute zucchinis through the window as an option for patrons. Because we often receive them in such massive quantities, we also usually end up sharing zucchinis in the front lobby with anyone who stops by.

So, how can you enjoy this super vegetable?! Zucchini pizza is currently all the rage for those of us on the go. But for those of us with more time on our hands we can now enjoy pizza without the carbs. What excites me even more is that you can combine chocolate and zucchini together to make pretty sweet muffins!

Volunteer Profile: Karen

August 19, 2015

[Chloe, our wonderful Summer Special Projects Assistant at House of Friendship’s Emergency Food Hamper Program, wrote the following post.]

Karen is doing great things here! She has been a volunteer for six months, logging over 106 hours. She comes in during the mornings and does any job necessary–usually stocking the shelves or helping fellow volunteer Daniel at the meat station. I had a chance to sit down with her, a challenge with someone who never stops working!

How would you describe your life so far?
I was an addict, and have dealt with addictions off and on for 30 years. I lost my family and career to it. It took me to places I never thought I would go. The last time I did treatment was November, and I have been clean since then. Although I am happy that I have reached a good place again, it is hard to stay positive sometimes, no matter what the people around me say.

Can you tell me about how you ended up here at the food hamper program?
My counselor at St. Mary’s suggested I do some volunteer work, to keep busy. I didn’t know where to go, and so he suggested a food bank. A friend of mine found this place, and since I live close by, it was the best choice!

Why do you volunteer here? Is it important to you?
I love volunteering here! It never feels structured like a 9-5 job. Everybody I work with is wonderful, and are always happy! I feel like I’m not judged here, and people don’t get frustrated if I ask a lot of questions.

What do you enjoy about volunteering at the EFHP?
Just the realization that when I first started here, I was in bad shape, but there are always people worse off than me. I try to carry that with me the rest of the day, and remember it when I am not here!

What’s your favourite job at our program?
Stocking shelves!

Are there particular reasons you chose House of Friendship?
The fact that I can walk here!

Is there anything you want to share with the community about House of Friendship? (Good or bad!)
It’s all good! There is a non-judgmental, happy, comforting atmosphere whenever I am here.

What keeps you busy when you aren’t here? Are there any other programs that you are or have volunteered with?
I have never volunteered anywhere else. When I am not here, I go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and a support group for different kinds of addicts.

Do you have any favourite moments or experiences here?
In general, I am just happy here! I love all the singing–Daniel especially. And the fact that a lot of people here are very knowledgeable, like Daniel and Wanda are about music. Everyone has their own little thing that they’re interested in. And I love working with Anton [driver/warehouse worker/gopher]! He is a nut, a good nut.

I look to forward to the days I get to see Karen. She is such a warm and caring person, greeting everybody who walks in with a smile. I am glad I had a chance to interview her and I commend her for being so brave in sharing her story with us.

Difference and Repetition at Food Hampers

August 13, 2015

[Chloe, Summer Special Projects Assistant at House of Friendship’s Emergency Food Hamper Program, wrote the following post.]

Now that you have some background knowledge of our operations, I want to discuss different aspects of the program that I have noticed over the course of my time here. This work has patterns, and at the same time, each day is unique. To get a variety of perspectives, I spoke to Jesse, who coordinates volunteers and does intake; Raymond, our distribution coordinator; and Luke, one of our many dedicated volunteers.


First Days and a Typical Day at the Food Hamper Program

August 11, 2015

[Chloe, Summer Special Projects Assistant at House of Friendship’s Emergency Food Hamper Program, wrote the following post.]

I have been fortunate enough to be part of the Emergency Food Hamper Program for the past three and half years, as a summer student and as a volunteer. Being here all this time has given me insight into how the program works, through patron intake, hamper packing and sorting donations.

Today’s post includes a glimpse into my very first day three years ago, as well as what a “typical” day here looks like. In part two of the series, coming soon, I collect and share various colleagues’s perspectives on what working at the program is like.


The Good the Bad and the Unexpected: First Reflections on Emergency Food

August 6, 2015

The following was written by Khadija Hamidzai, Summer Special Projects Assistant at House of Friendship’s Emergency Food Hamper Program

During my first day at the Emergency Food Hamper Program (EFHP) I weighed and bagged various types of meat, which were then placed in hampers for different family sizes. When hampers are put together and given out I didn’t initially notice the amount of planning that is put behind every box. Every item in a food hamper is given out for a very specific reason, for example, individual dietary needs and family size. I appreciated the care and thought that went into every box – making sure each individual was catered to adequately.

I also really liked the fact that we try to provide all of the major food groups for our patrons. The variety within the food groups is sparse but decent enough. It’s also neat to me that there is always something new through the door that we can share with community members. Walking through the warehouse reminds me of being in Costco because everything is in bulk.

EFHP “ShopperChopper.” Source:


Two Ways To Make Jobs Better and Reduce Poverty

August 4, 2015

“If you’re going to look at poverty, you absolutely have to look at peoples’ work.” So began the Social Planning Council for Cambridge and North Dumfries 10th Annual Poverty Symposium.

Sounds simple, and obvious, and yet we often talk about everything else, when we talk about poverty.

In part, I think this is because work is an incredibly complicated and immediately overwhelming topic. We can give people food, and they’ll probably eat it. We can build a shelter, and people will probably sleep in it. But how do we make sure that people have decent jobs with decent pay?