Posts Tagged ‘personal reflections’

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.

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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…)

In The Middle of Things: Reflections on Becoming a Social Worker

January 5, 2015

Today, I am pleased to share a guest blog from Michael Hackbusch, and two of the BSW students we have on placement at the Food Hamper Program, the Sunnydale Community Centre and the Courtland Shelley community Centre.

House of Friendship believes strongly in housing as a right

My name is Michael Hackbusch, and at House of Friendship (HOF) I have the task (privilege, really), of providing practicum supervision to burgeoning social work students. These students are in the Bachelor and Master of Social Work programs and come mostly from Renison University College at the University of Waterloo but also Wilfrid Laurier University, the University of Windsor and, this year, Carleton University.

We appreciate the partnership with the students on placement at HOF for causing us to reflect on our own practices, and to make explicit those things we assume are known. Further, by this act of mindfulness, we individually pay attention to our own reasons for serving through House of Friendship, how our service is needed, and why. They also give us cause to reflect on conversations we might have with our neighbours about systemic problems, which are often the reason for House of Friendship programs.

To that end, I posed a number of questions to two of our current practicum students, Lindsay and Dannika. Their answers reflect the students’ understanding of social work before and during their placement; how they have been challenged by both the program but also the people served; how they find a balance between classroom and practicum; and what advice they would offer to anyone considering a career in social work. Finally, I asked them what they know now, that they wish they had known months ago? (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…)

What’s for dinner?

April 5, 2012

Michael, our BSW student, recently found himself thinking about how people might use the food we share each day.   This is what he had to say:

Photo via flickr user Nena B.

On a weekly basis the Emergency Food Hamper program will normally hand out hundreds of food hampers. The program relies on donations that go up and down and thus has to adjust the amount each family receives based on what is available and how busy they expect to be. This constant change can make it difficult to tailor to each program participant’s food requests. Allergies, family food preferences and varying culinary skills often have to be balanced with what is on hand.  Putting myself in the shoes of someone receiving a food hamper for one person, and using my normal diet and food preferences, I wonder how long could I make a food hamper last?

Today, if I got a hamper, breaking it down into three meals a day, and stretching it over three days would be difficult to accomplish.

Let’s start at the beginning.  This is what I have to work with:

  • 1 frozen bag of 5 chicken nuggets
  • Some sausages
  • 5 lbs. of potatoes
  • 8 oatmeal cereal pouches
  • 1 can of mushroom soup
  • 1 can of uncooked vegetables
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 Kraft Dinner box
  • 1 small bag of raw mushrooms
  • 1 can of tuna
  • 1 fruit cup
  • 1 can of pork and beans
  • 1 stick bread
  • 1 box of shortbread cookies
  • 1 1.3 L bottle of Sunny D beverage
  • 1 500 g Egg Creation carton
  • 1 small bag of frozen vegetables
  • 2 100g cups of yogurt
  • 3-4 pepperettes
  • 1 680g Heluva Good sour cream dip

Now, on to breakfast.

Normally I enjoy a bowl of cereal after I wake up. There are instant oatmeal pouches in the hamper but no milk to pour on it. The 1.3 litre Sunny D bottle would be good for breakfast but would not last me longer than three or four meals. A breakfast staple for me would be a cup of coffee, something that is frequently requested but that we rarely have to give out. I like scrambled eggs so the 500 grams of Egg Creation, which is a carton of egg whites, along with the onion and mushrooms I received, would last me about two breakfasts. I would also consume one of the two yogurt cups.

Moving on to lunch I could try to eat my one box of Kraft Dinner or maybe warm up the can of soup. Hopefully, if I wasn’t very thirsty from the morning, some Sunny D will be left over. Seeing as I am not terribly handy in the kitchen, warming up soup or making Kraft Dinner is maxing out my current culinary skills. If I didn’t have an oven,these foods, along with the can of vegetables, would be almost pointless. Future lunches would probably involve having to eat a can of beans in sauce which is not a favourite of mine, along with a can of tuna. Good thing I have a reliable can opener!

Finally, supper time would involve my cooking the five or six chicken nuggets and maybe half of the sausages I received. The crusty stick bread would also be on my dinner menu since it’s already a little on the stale side, and I would round it out with steaming some of the five pounds of potatoes.

Examining what is left in my hamper what would I do if a friend dropped by for a unexpected visit?  I would offer him or her a pepperette or two and maybe some leftover sausage. Not exactly ideal stuff for entertaining casual visitors. Also, it wouldn’t last very long and I really need to save it for the next few days. How about putting out some uncooked potatoes, mushrooms, and sour cream dip? Again, not really ideal. In reality I would probably not offer them anything, as I would be too embarrassed to admit that I was having a food emergency. If my friend provided me with food the last time I visited them, it would be a very awkward time together.

So, I’ve made it a day.  Not many leftovers remain.  If I want to stretch it out for another 2 days I have to start making some big compromises. I would find it very challenging and stressful to limit myself to just three meals a day.  There is not a lot of room for snacks and I’ve polished off most of my hamper in just one day.  I would have to carefully portion out the leftovers for lunch and supper and likely have to scrape by on day three with some of the frozen vegetables, a sausage if I have one left and maybe some pepperettes.  Not really an inspiring menu and not great fuel for a full day of school or work.  And all of this is assuming that after a stressful day or two of trying to sort out what and how much I should eat, I wouldn’t snack on something one day and have little left for the following day or two.  It’s not something I really want to think about too much, yet it’s a daily struggle for more than a hundred families each day walking through our doors.

BSW Guest Blog: Who do the food hampers help?

November 3, 2011

One day last week, late afternoon, a young girl and her daughter came in for a food hamper for herself and her family of three. Obviously uncomfortable, shifting her weight from foot to foot, constantly looking down, and speaking in whispers so others would not hear her. She was clearly upset with having to ask a stranger for food.

While the intake worker sensitively guided her through intake, I observed some striking similarities between my own circumstances in life and this humble young woman who was at her wits end.  She was the same age as my wife and her husband was the same age as me. She was short and had long, straight, black hair, similar to my wife. I couldn’t help but imagine what it would feel like if I was on the other side of the counter asking a stranger for food. A myriad of question flew through my head and continued long after I left for the day. Would I be able to bring myself to ask for the food? Why would I be unable to provide for my family? Could I handle having to ask for food on multiple occasions?

Hello, my name is Mike,  and I am a student at Renison University College at the University of Waterloo working towards a BSW degree. For the last five weeks, I have been helping out at House of Friendship’s Emergency Food Hamper Program (EFHP). Between attending classes at a new university and getting used to a new city, I have been very lucky to work with House of Friendship for my school practicum. At the Food Hamper Program, I have experienced a number of startling realities that most people do not see on a daily basis. Realities which many live with each day, and that revolve around food insecurity issues. Before explaining one of these experiences, a little background information about me is in order. (more…)