Posts Tagged ‘Emergency Food Hamper Program’

After 30 Years of Food Banking How Are We Doing?

February 5, 2016

We are rapidly closing in on the 1 year anniversary of adopting Link 2 Feed.  If you recall, we blogged about it last year and some of the implications of using it for the future.  Look forward to a bit of analysis next month as we consider a year worth of data and what insights we might gain from it about hunger in the region and how busy our program was.

Today I wanted to reflect on 2015 in general, which provides a nice opportunity to consider 30 years of food banks, basically, from their inception as a desperate measure to help out, to an established and complicated part of a very different society.

I want to narrow the focus down to the experience of the House of Friendship.  We have spoken in other posts about what food banks do, some alternatives and some implications of different ideas.  I want to sidestep that, and instead take a look at what emergency food assistance looks like for the us. (more…)

Reflections On A Summer At The Food Hamper Program

September 9, 2015

House of Friendship believes strongly in housing as a right

Today I am please to share the final post from one of our summer students, Khadija, where she shares some reflections on her eight weeks here at the Food Hamper Program.


I have had a new and eye opening experience here at the Emergency Food Hamper Program at the House of Friendship. I have been introduced to an environment that has allowed me to come in contact with an  array of individuals – from those facing food insecurity working to make ends meet to those teaching and/or getting numerous degrees at prestigious institutions.

I was extremely blessed to learn more about where and how I, as a student, millennial and general human being can be kinder, more understanding, conscious and loving. I’ve come to better grasp where my boundaries are with others so that I may courteously address them and stand up for myself. I’ve learned that respect is a word that is unique to each individual and should be attuned to each person’s comfort level – no two folks will have the same take on what is ok to say or do anytime or anyplace. It was a much needed summer here. I’m a better person for it. My values and ideals have been put to the test and I think that in itself has been the best thing that could have come out of the last two months. The next few paragraphs are going to delve into some of the challenges that I experienced and chose to address in my role as the Summer Special Projects Assistant here at the EFHP. Happy reading! (more…)

How To Take Two Trips For The Price Of One

June 19, 2015

Museums like the ROM, different cities, camps and more are all great places to go on a school trip. Photo via Flickr user Grant MacDonald

One of the nice things about being a parent is the opportunity to accompany your child or children on a school trip: you get some insight into class room dynamics, spend some time with your child, and learn a bit about the environment in which they spend so much of their time.

At the end of the year, many classes organize school trips.  I remember these as great experiences to go outside of the community I grew up in, visit new places with my friends and have a lot of fun.

For the first part of this week, my co-worker at the Emergency Food Hamper Program, Raymond, was absent as he accompanied one of his children on an end of year trip.  As a result I stepped into his role a little more than I usually do, and coordinated the challenging and interesting job of receiving, organizing, inventorying and distributing the many food donations we receive.  This week was a little more challenging than others. (more…)

807 Recipes From Our Community

December 5, 2014

Emergency Food Hamper Program House of Friendship via Wordle

Today I am happy to share a collaborative project that the staff and volunteers of the Emergency Food Hamper Program put together to celebrate their work and their common interest in food.

It is a short cookbook of favourite recipes, and recipes from some of our friends.

We hope you enjoy it!

In the comments feel free to share some of your favourite recipes!  We are always looking for a new way to incorporate a new ingredient into our weekly menus at home or try something completely new!

To download the .pdf copy of the book, click on this link here: 807 Recipes from Community

Volunteer Profile: Pauline!

September 4, 2014

Pauline started volunteering at the Food Hamper Program last October. Since that chilly afternoon she has become our on-call superstar, regularly coming in to help on short notice, despite being in school; and volunteering over 190 hours in the process! Pauline is obviously committed to our program: she goes to great lengths to get here, and when she’s here does whatever needs doing with a smile and a laugh.


I convinced her to sit down (and take a break—no small feat!) to chat about her time here…

How did you hear about House of Friendship?

My first trip to the Food Hamper Program was to pick up a food hamper. I also knew of some other people who had used the program and then applied to see if I could start volunteering here.

Is volunteering important to you? Why?

Yes! And for lots of reasons. By volunteering here I am directly giving back to this community, which has at different times supported me, and that feels good. I wanted to make a contribution like this to the community.

At the same, volunteering has impacted my life in important ways. When I started here I was in a depressive state, but program staff and other volunteers welcomed me, and as I’ve settled into this space I’ve increasingly felt valued, and been a valuable part of this program.

What do you enjoy about volunteering at the EFHP?

The people, and being part of something that supports others. Like I said, staff and other volunteers welcomed me so warmly, and sincerely, that I’m always eager to return. I also really like connecting with folks who are here for a hamper, and trying to meet their specific needs, especially when they have kids. I try, when I can, to pack the best hamper for each family, and you’d be amazed how a bit of special attention can go such a long way. A few smiles stick out in my memory, reminders of the value of small acts of kindness and consideration.

What’s your favourite job at our program?

All of them! I spend lots of time packing hampers, but that is really just a small part of what goes on here—the last, most visible step in a much larger project. That being the case I’m happy to sort food, clean, or get in Raymond’s way—to make him smile, of course! Whatever the day requires.

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

I’ve helped out with my kids’s sports teams and with the Optimist and Lions clubs of Kitchener and Stratford, but this is my first regular volunteer experience.

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

Many of my waking hours are spent at the arenas of southern Ontario with my daughter’s ringette team. Or reading, playing baseball, swimming and biking. I like to keep busy!

In closing, Pauline re-stated her commitment to, and affection for the Hamper Program. As she put it, “I’ve so obviously loved coming here that it’s convinced some of my friends to join me!” Her infectious enthusiasm brings joy and humour to the Food Hamper program—which is great, because we’ve packed over 25,000 hampers since Pauline started volunteering here!

Volunteer Spotlight: Mike C.

September 16, 2013

Mike C photo

The best sports teams depend on positional players: good pitchers, quarterbacks or goalies. But the same teams also depend on “utility players.” These highly capable men and women play a range of positions at a high level, filling in where needed. Mike C is a superb utility player on the EFHP team, contributing since the day he signed his (volunteer) contract in January 2010. When I tracked him down for this interview he was packing two hampers at the same time—half an hour after he was scheduled to go home for the day. An hour earlier he’d been up to his elbows in cabbage, sorting a big donation.

HOF: How did you hear about House of Friendship?

MC: I started packing Christmas hampers in 2009. From there I learned about the Emergency Food Hamper Program. [Like the EFHP, the Christmas Hamper Program is one of House of Friendship’s “Community Services,” and has provided a gift of food to families and individuals living on low income since 1964.]

HOF: What do you enjoy about volunteering at the EFHP?

MC: Lots of different things. I appreciate and enjoy helping others, and using my free time in a constructive and positive way. I’ve also had plenty of opportunities to develop relationships with volunteers and Program patrons, who come from all walks of life. Working alongside these good and interesting people continues to be rewarding.

HOF: What’s your favourite job at our program?

MC: Everything! [HOF scouts confirm this response.] I enjoy packing hampers, bagging and sorting fruit, and stocking the shelves. Whatever is required that day.

HOF: How has volunteering impacted your life?

MC: I’ve been dealing with a medical condition over the last few years, and volunteering has helped me recover in a number of important ways. I had to take time off work, and coming in to the EFHP has helped me res-establish a normal schedule. By working here I’ve also regained a lot of my strength and endurance, which has been great for me. Finally, my time here has been educational. I’ve learned about the EFHP, but also about the needs in our community. Some days I barely get to sit down, we are so busy meeting those needs.

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

MC: I’ve coached minor hockey in Waterloo four different years, from tykes up to Bantam rep. I grew up playing hockey in Waterloo, and AA baseball.

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

MC: I am an avid sports fan, especially the Blue Jays and Kitchener Rangers. [HOF scouting reports confirm this as well.] I also love playing sports, and in addition to hockey and baseball, I bowl and golf. [I had to ask, but Mike finally admitted that his bowling high score is 356!]

At this point, Mike had to get back to work, and of course I couldn’t keep an All-Star on the bench! Thanks for pitching in whenever and wherever we need you Mike. Your hard work and positive attitude help keep the EFHP team on the right track. We’ve served over 23,000 hampers already this year, and it’s only possible because of volunteers like Mike.

Sarah’s Blue Berry weekend

September 5, 2013

In part three of our short series, Sarah share’s her experience saving blue berries when they are available in abundance.



Everybody eats…. potato soup!

August 29, 2013

This summer we were very lucky to benefit from the contributions of two summer student placements here at Food Hampers: Sarah and Chloe.  In addition to working hard on intake, welcoming and helping people in search of food, they also contributed to the ongoing conversation about food that happens here everyday.

In a series of four posts, Sarah and Chloe will share some of the experiences they had and a few recipes. (more…)

The changing face of food aid

June 3, 2013

Change is not an easy thing to face.

Sometimes changes are imposed from the outside, other times, you may feel that you are running in circles, achieving nothing and want to get out of the rut.  Maybe it’s time to go back to school, change your job, or just put a new coat of paint on things to brighten up your living room.  There are big changes, and not so big ones – but big or small, change is often hard for people and recognizing the need is rarely a straightforward job.

How do you know it’s time?

At our staff meetings at the Emergency Food Hamper Program, we sometimes find ourselves looking to the future of how we operate. We think about our impact as a program, and how our numbers have increased steadily since we first started giving out hampers. We think about the kind of community we’d like to be a part of. We talk about whether it would be better to have more warehouse space to give out more hampers, or more offices and a nice kitchen to help teach people food skills and increase the amount of anti-poverty advocacy we do.

At the House of Friendship, working with other organizations and people is a major part of our day.   We are always looking to volunteers, staff and community partners to help uncover a better community for all of us a little bit at a time. This is why places like the Stop, and its sister project, Community Food Centres Canada caught our eye—they offer a new way of seeing food aid, as more than simply emergency hampers. All across the province (and now the entire country) there are some fresh ideas developing and being nurtured by Community Food Centre’s Canada. They are trying to grow some change and set an example for how people can help communities build a better relationship to healthy food and advocate for a more just world.

What is a Community Food Centre? According to their website, it is:

“… a welcoming space where people come together to grow, cook, share and advocate for good food. CFCs provide people with emergency access to high-quality food in a dignified setting that doesn’t compromise their self-worth. People learn cooking and gardening skills there, and kids get their hands dirty in the garden and kitchen in ways that expand their tastebuds and help them make healthier food choices. Community members find their voices on the issues that matter to them, and people find friends and support. CFCs offer multifaceted, integrated and responsive programming in a shared space where food builds health, hope, skills and community.”


Day 9: Share the gift of warmth

December 18, 2012

Snow, ice, and sub-zero temperatures are coming soon. While for some of us this weather provides a mild inconvenience when we leave the comfort of our homes, for people with no fixed address or who are living on low income, the weather can be a serious challenge. Today is day 9 of the 12 Days for Good, and the theme is giving the gift of warmth. This could mean the warmth of having somewhere indoors to spend the night, the warmth that comes with being part of a community, or the warmth that comes from wearing a pair of handmade mittens.

12 Days - PIFG