Opening Up Food Hampers This Summer

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This summer two years of planning and discussing will finally pay off as work will officially begin on a major renovation and reworking of our Emergency Food Hamper Program on Guelph Street.

We are going to extend the front of our warehouse by about 20 feet, demolish the house that sits awkwardly in the middle of our parking lot and greatly improve the safety and efficiency of our operation as a whole.

The New Face of Food Hampers after it's renovation

Food Hampers In A Nutshell

Each week we have two basic jobs:

  1. We receive and sort and store food.
  2. We meet people who need help, we register them, and we give them food.

What Is happening This Summer?

Starting the week of July 11 we will be operating out of two sites.

We will be closed July 11 to finalize the move.  We will be open to the public starting Tuesday July 12.

We will do our food receiving, sorting and storing at the Food Bank of Waterloo Region.  This is job number 1.  Half of our staff and volunteer team will operate there for the better part of each day and get things organised for the other half of the staff and volunteer team that will be at 797 Guelph Street (next door to our current warehouse).  At 797 Guelph we will do job number 2:  Registering people who need help and sharing food with them.

This will involve some pretty big changes.

For starters, we do not have a large enclosed building to operate out of next door.  We are going to make use of some freezer and cooler trailers and some tents.  We will have a smaller and leaner footprint which means we will not have the full range of items that we typically have.  There will still be perishable and non-perishable items in our food hampers but likely less will be available because of our limited storage options. There is a building on site that we will use to register people who need help which will thankfully have air conditioning but the majority of the team will be outside in the fresh air distributing food to everyone.

We will also change our distribution hours.  Currently we are are open 11-4:15.  While the work is happening next door we will open earlier at 9:30 and distribute until 2pm.

In the afternoon we will ship food from the Food Bank over to 797 Guelph and resupply for the following day. Keeping this flow going is one of the major challenges we will have this summer as properly forecasting demand for our services and having sufficient food on hand will be key since our supply will be on the other side of the city and adapting to a sudden spike in demand over the course of a day will be difficult.

To Summarise

Closed to the public July 11

Open to the public July 12 at 797 Guelph Street.  This is the property right before our current building at 807 Guelph Street if you are coming from the corner of Guelph + Lancaster.

We will now be open at 9:30am for food distribution.  We will distribute until 2:00pm.

Everything Is Awesome When You’re Part Of A Team

Through the entire process of getting ready we have had many opportunities to reflect on the vast web of support that exists in this community for our work.  Our neighbours the Knights of Columbus generously offered us the use of their property adjacent to our warehouse, the Food Bank of Waterloo Region offered us the usage of significant portions of their warehouse on Alpine and the full support of their talented staff team, our volunteers again demonstrated their commitment and flexibility by offering whatever support we needed, ideas, feedback and patience as we worked out a huge set of details and many interlaced plans.

Internally, the talented development team at House of Friendship secured over half a million dollars in funding to help our dreams come to fruition, Board members helped us navigate the complicated process of doing this work and our property services department played a key role in pushing the project forward providing insight into what was feasible and oversight of the huge team of people needed to lay the groundwork and finally get a contractor  hired and heavy equipment moving.  Not to mention handling key support tasks like building needed items to improve our quality of life during the construction and sourcing key pieces of equipment and supplies.

How You Can Help!

Sharing food with 20,000 of our neighbours each year is a challenge in itself.  Dividing in two and operating out of two sites in very different ways for a quarter of the year adds an other layer of “interesting” to our work.  There will be a few details that we did not account for properly, and unforeseen events will crop up, so the first way you can help is by being patient.  Thank you in advance for that.

If you have a donation of food, please bring it to the Food Bank, or the House of Friendship at 63 Charles Street East.

If you are able to support financially, you can do so at the House of Friendships Website.  Any contribution will help us continue the work we do, helping over a hundred households and individuals with food each day of the week.

If you want to volunteer please give us a call at 519-742-0662.  We need help during the day 8:30 to 4:30 at both of our sites.

If you have questions please comment, call at the number listed above, or email me directly at mattc <at> houseoffriendship.org

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