Posts Tagged ‘food security’

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…)

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Ten Days Of Food Hampers At The Food Hamper Program: Part One

October 26, 2015

Today I am happy to share a post from Chloe, long time volunteer, and occasional intake worker!

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Ever since I started volunteering here, it was obvious that a food hamper that a family receives one day will differ from what a family receives the next day. This is because of the variability of our donations. Even though there are foods we generally give out with every hamper, what specifically is included changes all the time. In this blog I will show a hamper a day for a two person family (near the average family size we serve of 2.4), over two weeks.

For each day I will mention the number of hampers distributed and any extras given out. I separated out “hamper” extras and “window” extras. The hamper extras are given as part of every hamper, but the patrons do not have to take the window extras. These items are put at the window if we have large quantities of them (like ears of corn or trays), or if they are a unique item.

The intent of this post is to show the variability of hampers over the space of a week vs another week, to illustrate the impact unexpected donations may have, and as luck would have it, the struggle involved to fairly distribute an unknown quantity of food to an unknown quantity of people.

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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…)

Nourishing Community #12daysforgood

December 12, 2014

12 days for good nutrition

by Brian Banks Community Development at Nutrition for Learning

Today as in the other days of doing good, I will focus on what I can do better as a DO GOODER and will focus on nourishment for the community.

Nourishment comes in many forms and is often a complicated notion of food or fuel for your body, which magically changes almost everything that is associated with you.  Nourishment affects your health, energy, focus, attention, ability to learn, mood and at the basic level, the ability to continue to function.   How this all works for your body we leave to the nutritionists to explain however nourishment for our community means more.

Nourishment is food and OTHER substances necessary for growth, health and keeping an individual and community in GOOD condition.

On a daily basis, I see the success of nourishing young minds at school with my work as Community Development Officer at Nutrition for Learning.  I know each day, one in ten children arrive at school without breakfast or lunch to sustain them an entire school day.  For whatever the reason for the need for nourishment we ensure food is within reach for the students.

With my involvement with our full time team and the involvement of over 1,800 volunteers collectively we provide 145 breakfasts, morning meals and snack programs impacting over 14,000 children daily in our region. I continually hear from teachers, principals, parents and the students what the nourishment they receive leads to better marks, better attention and focus in the class, an increased sense of community and so much more.

Nourishment for the community is perceived and found in different forms and services so this week, I will use the power of R.O.A.R.  (return on all requests) to share the need in our community and multiply my Do Gooder work by sharing the projects I will supporting this week.

In regards to food I will plan and work to share what I personally can in regards to food donations and to help raise funds and collect food donations for the Waterloo Region Food Bank and Nutrition for Learning.

The House of Friendship Men’s Hostel could use bedding, towels, blankets, and clothes and by just sharing that need with my family and friends have already received a trunk nourish communityload of donations from people who are happy to be able tohelp others in the community.

Nourishment also is required in relationships, families, marriages, and neighborhoods and of course nourishment for our emotions and for our souls.  With this in mind I will work to share more smiles, seize more opportunities to be of service and engage those important in my life and with the community at large.

During these 12 days I will spend a little more time and attention at the After School Programs in my neighborhood where I volunteer because it is important to extend not just the snacks but also the power of friendships, smiles, and real participation in their lives.

Nourishment is more than food and comes in many forms but surprisingly comes in the form of YOU AND ME.  So let’s collectively create one magnificent buffet for our community and ensure there are chairs for everyone.

I look forward to doing a little better job of being the proper NOURISHMENT for our community.

You can follow Brian’s journey in nourishing community on Twitter

If you can’t feed a hundred people, feed just one << TWEET THIS

The PROOF is in The 1.6 Million

November 20, 2014

Last year, the research group PROOF published a national study of food insecurity in Canada. They concluded that

[h]ousehold food insecurity, inadequate or insecure access to food because of financial constraints, is a significant social and public health problem in Canada. In 2011, 1.6 million Canadian households, or slightly more than 12%, experienced some level of food insecurity. This amounts to nearly one in eight households, and 3.9 million individuals in Canada, including 1.1 million children. There were 450,000 more Canadians living in households affected by food insecurity in 2011 than in 2008.

And fortunately (for you, kind reader) the PROOF researchers also put together a slick info-graphic. (more…)

Five days on a Hamper Diet: surviving, or thriving?

August 27, 2014

In two other posts, our intrepid summer students discussed “living inside the box,” including planning meals and dealing with the unexpected when your only groceries are from the Emergency Food Program. In this piece, Jessica shifts the discussion out of the abstract, describing her experience living on the actual contents of a food hamper, for five days. (She bought the items, don’t worry!) As her story unfolds, compare it with other more theoretical entries on this blog. Now, here’s Jessica!

My thoughts going into the assignment

In my last blog post I questioned the sustainability of our five day meal plans. In short, was it really enough food to eat well for five days? So, for this assignment I wanted to actually prepare and eat a single person family hamper. This Friday I am going to record what items would be in a one person hamper and purchase them at my local grocery store. I am only going to use the items that would be provided in the hamper with the exception of salt and pepper.

Going into this activity of actually executing a designed meal plan I was quite nervous. I was unsure of what to expect and what I would receive in my hamper that day.

Would I like the food options?

Would there be enough food to last the designated period of time?

I believe these feelings might be similar to customers who use our program, especially for the first time. This is why it seems so important to help program patrons feel comfortable and answer any questions they might have.

Now, I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a picky eater but there are some items that I would prefer not to eat. This makes me think of all the children that only want to eat certain food items like chicken nuggets and french fries. How do their parents or guardians handle that situation when all they have available is the food we provide them?

Although extremely healthy for you I’m a lot like most children and do not enjoy eating vegetables, maybe with dip but that’s about it. So designing a personalized meal plan for myself may be trickier than just a general meal plan Sarah and I created earlier where I didn’t incorporate my personal food preferences.

This assignment should be very interesting and a great learning experience for myself to gain a larger understanding of what some of our single person family customers may be going through when designing and preparing meals for themselves. (more…)

Living Inside The Box: Menu Planning For Food Hampers, vol. 2

August 11, 2014

Here is the second installment of Sarah and Jessica’s work thinking through the options and dilemmas of a food hamper for a single person. Two weeks after their first hamper, they packed a second one with very different results. The theme of their menu this time around is food monotony–a topic discussed elsewhere on this blog.7031c072416a8ed12eb10eea4bb9_Content

Sarah: Once again, Jessica and I were required to pack a single person’s hamper and create a meal plan to sustain us for—fingers crossed—five days. We received a lot of food in the first hamper, and so it didn’t seem like this would be a difficult task. However, once the hamper was packed and presented to us, there was a major contrast between our previous hamper and the one that was now before us.

This hamper lacked basic categories of food. Unlike our past hamper, there was an absence of 1L milk, a squash, onions, beans, cottage cheese and vegetables. In addition, there was much less fruit, yogurt and bread. On the other hand, we did gain eggs in our hamper! But this hardly seems like an equal trade off. The amount of food received in the hamper clearly indicates the amount of donations received that week. Minimal donations plus ongoing community need left us with a rather small hamper. (more…)

Growing up Organically

August 1, 2014

My family moved onto a small-ish farm in Southern Ontario the year I entered kindergarten. We are now certified Organic, and mainly produce spelt and grass-fed beef. At different points we’ve had pigs, chickens, sheep, and a small army of barn cats.

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Some of the animals in my family

On the one hand, I have always been proud of what we do. We don’t look or farm like our neighbours. We have more weeds–thistles as big as me, sometimes. Instead of pesticides and fertilizer, we practice forms of crop rotation I’ve always believed to be kinder to the earth. Our practices are more labour intensive, and a bit less dependent on fossil fuels. I know that some of our neighbours don’t even consider what we do ‘real farming.’ Usually, however, comments like that only reinforce that we are doing something different, and that we–and farms like ours–represent something more sustainable and just, a method I’ll call agro-ecological farming.

The face of grass fed beef.

The face of grass fed beef

On the other hand, aren’t these ‘real farmers’ making an important point? Couldn’t we be farming more efficiently? Shouldn’t we? It’s easy to pick on these neighbours: they are farming more conventionally and industrially, and thus responsible for so many environmental evils. Right? Unfortunately, it’s often hard to find room for nuance on my moral high-horse. In reality, my family makes a sort-of living–my parents both work off farm–by selling a niche product to upper-middle class consumers. From this perspective, our farm looks less like a real alternative to our factory farming neighbours, and more, perhaps, like an irresponsible use of resources in a hungry world. (more…)

“Poor People Can’t Cook,” and Other Myths

July 22, 2014

In 2013, over 47 million Americans depended on food stamps to buy their groceries. Those food stamps turn out to be worth about $5 or $6 per day, per person.

Not a lot to live on—but better than nothing?

Canada does not have a food stamp program. Canada does not have a national school breakfast or lunch (or supper or brunch or snack) program. We are one of the few “First World” countries without a formal, national nutrition assistance program. Non-governmental strategic policy papers exist, but as such papers typically do, they promote particular interests and agendas.

Why not food stamps?

The view from Canada is that we don’t need specific nutritional programs because our social assistance programs are good enough. Instead of funding food stamps, or school lunches, we give families money–through Ontario Works (OW) or the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP)—and let them make their own food and other choices. This could be a more dignified, less paternalistic way to support individuals real freedom—and opportunities—to choose how they want to live.

Now, if our social assistance programs were empowering, i.e. established some equality of opportunity, we wouldn’t see poor health outcomes clustering around particular demographics. It’s true that we start with different abilities and inclinations, and so even in a system of equal opportunities we wouldn’t see equal outcomes. But when certain groups consistently and predictably fall below average on basic measures like health, or food security, or educational attainment, we can and should conclude that those groups face additional obstacles, or less-than-equal opportunities.

And we should do something about it. (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.”

(more…)