Posts Tagged ‘supermarket potato blitz’

Kartoffel-Blitz!

February 17, 2012

Potato Blitz mascot Spuddy enjoys a photo op at your local FreshCo

The German word blitz has a lot of different meanings.  What exactly is a potato blitz?  Is it some sort of food? Are they going to be falling from the sky?

Well, you don’t have to worry about getting a helmet. And on the bright side, it will involve eating – but I’ll get to that in a little bit.  For us at House of Friendship, blitz means a short, focused effort.  As you may already know, the  Potato Blitz is a one month push to collect as many potatoes as we can so that we can share with the people who turn to us for help.  With me so far?

In just 15 days (between Don Cameron Potato Night and this last Saturday) many, many people have stepped up, pitched in and shared a gift with us:  a gift of potatoes, some kind words of support and a lot of smiles!

I’ve written about Don Cameron Potato Night already.  Last Saturday, it was the second major blitz event, House of Friendship’s annual Supermarket Blitz.  The Supermarket Blitz is a one day community wide effort, where volunteers, staff, friends and family visit local grocery stores and ask their neighbours for some potatoes to help the less fortunate members of our community.  What a day!

In the space of a few hours we received over 22 skids of potatoes from shoppers at 26 different stores across the region!  When combined with the financial donations that were made as well, we collected the equivalent of 102,000 pounds of potatoes!  When we add that to the donations we accepted at Don Cameron Potato night we are only 12,000 pounds away from our goal of 200,000 pound goal.

House of Friendship staff and volunteers take a break in front of some of the 22 skids that were collected during the annual Supermarket Blitz

What’s left now?  We are always accepting donations of more potatoes and other food items.  More info on how you can help here. Every single spud will make a difference to the people we serve, who, are coming to us in record numbers.  This last January was the busiest month in the history of the emergency food hamper program, with 3491 hampers going out our doors to fill empty kitchen cupboards in Kitchener and Waterloo.

Each potato and dollar that is donated this month will help us put food on families tables for most of the coming year. Thanks to Jay West, a local food retailer in St. Jacobs, we will be able to store the spuds in the right conditions so they are still perfect when we need them in the coming months.

Are you planning on attending the community potato lunch next Friday?  It will be between 12 and 1pm, Friday February 24th at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Kitchener.  Last years lunch (post here) was a huge success and you can look forward to more great company, and the second (critically acclaimed) soup idol contest where local’s try and win the favour of the judges with their best potato soup recipe.  This year we expect some serious competition. (Do you think your soup recipe is a winner?  We’re still looking for people to compete – you can contact Jenn at 519-742-8327 for more info.)

A Spud-Filled Warehouse

March 7, 2011

Below are some photos from the warehouse at various points since the Potato Blitz began. It seems like the abundance of potatoes in the Food Hampers’ warehouse is never-ending!

A skid of potatoes after the Don Cameron Night.

Full cardboard bins of potatoes after the Supermarket Blitz.

A few days later, the cardboard bins have been restocked with more potatoes.

Those mountains of potatoes are, of course, already being used. A few days ago, as a patron was filling out the checklist of food that he wanted in his hamper, he paused to ask me a question. With his finger resting on the picture of potatoes, he said, “I have been craving my homemade potato fries. Do you have potatoes today?” (more…)

It’s potato time!

February 11, 2011

If you’re familiar with the many events that occur during the year at House of Friendship, you will know that December is associated with Christmas Hampers, and February is marked by potatoes! Yes, with February now upon us, Spuddy and Sweet Potato have been dug up and the February Potato Blitz is effectively underway.

The February Potato Blitz began as a fundraiser to help supplement the vast amount of potatoes that House of Friendship—in all its 18 programs—uses over the course of a year. Over time, this campaign has been refined and perfected, and now consists of three major events: The Don Cameron Potato Night, the Supermarket Blitz and the Community Potato Lunch. None of these events would be complete without an appearance from either Spuddy or Sweet Potato, the life-size potato heads who have become public faces of this campaign. (more…)

Supermarket Blitzers win GOLD in Potato Collection Event!

March 1, 2010

The results are in and they are fantastic!

Volunteers from nine local churches rallied together on February 20th at 12 different supermarkets to collect a combined total of 100,395 lbs of potatoes for the House of Friendship’s Annual Potato Blitz! 17,500 lbs of the potatoes were donated directly, while the other 82,895 lbs comes from the  $8,289.47 in cash donations that will be used to buy potatoes year-round at a fixed low-rate.

Calvary United, Calvin Presbyterian, Christ Lutheran, Doon Presbyterian, Kitchener East Presbyterian, Knox Waterloo, Parkminster United, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian, and St. Louis Roman Catholic Church volunteers all spent their Saturday morning and afternoon at the entrances and exits of Food Basics Fairway Road, Waterloo Town Square’s Valu-Mart, Central Fresh Market, and various Sobeys, and Zehrs stores across KW.

Linda, Nicki, "Spuddy", Ed Ruppe, "Sweets" and John Neufeld. Missing: Chantelle

Some volunteers, like Ed Ruppe, his daughter, and his two granddaughters, made it a full day, family affair! Starting at 9:30 a.m, they stopped only for lunch, and were still going strong in their burlap sack dresses when “Spuddy” and “Sweet” came to visit them at Food Basics just before 3:00 p.m!

Elna Robertson spent the day at Sobeys Bridgeport with Parkminster United and told me in good humour, “Last year was my first year, and I didn’t think to have anyone around to cover a break or lunch. By two o’clock I was about ready to pass out.” Needless to say, she brought her husband of 51 years, Les, with her this time around, and planned for additional volunteers to arrive in intervals throughout the day. Other church groups, such as Calvin Presbyterian and St. Andrews Presbyterian, organized volunteer shifts from 9 a.m – 12p.m and 12 p.m – 3 p.m.

Elna and Les Robertson in their homemade Potato Blitz Tags

A small band of us led by “Spuddy” and “Sweet” were able to go around and see the volunteers hard at work at their respective locations. John Neufeld, Christine Rier, her son Colin, Michael Hackbusch, and myself, visited all but 1 of the 12 supermarkets, unfortunately arriving at Zehrs Pioneer Mall only minutes after the Doon Presbyterian volunteers had wrapped up for the day. Aside from this set back, we found those we visited in high spirits and unique get-ups. From green and white striped top hats, to handmade burlap vests (thank you Kingsdale Community Centre), to green plastic hats, and flowing burlap gowns, the Supermarket Blitzers made their mark and had many stories and smiles to share with us!

Samantha and Melanie at Zehrs Conestoga

We met veterans like Samantha- a grade eight student with three years experience and a fool-proof system: approach shoppers with potato bag already in hand, give a big smile and description of the cause, then place the potatoes into the obliging person’s shopping cart. Ta da, another donation secured!
How could anyone say no?

We also met Bob Schmidt and his team who were raking in the cash donations at the Northfield & Fisher-Hallman Sobeys, Ab Martin and company at Zehrs Glenridge, Barb “Captain” Chippier taking part in her 5th Blitz at Zehrs Stanley Park, and House of Friendship staff member extraordinaire, Shelley Holmes, with five other Knox Presbyterian volunteers in Valu-mart!

John Lambert as King Spud, and Doreen West peeking out from between the mascots.

Then there was King Spud himself, John Lambert, one of the Supermarket Blitz’s key coordinators, who has been volunteering, and wearing his royal attire, for the past 14 years. Customers of the Beechwood Zehrs were greeted with his tried and true: “Buy a bag of potatoes and we’ll gladly take them off your hands”.

So many volunteers helped at each location, and every one of them did a great job, at a hard job! Dave, from Calvin Presbyterian, confided in me that sometimes it’s tough asking strangers for cash donations or bags of potatoes: “Some people just walk by without even looking at you, you’re just another solicitor in their eyes and it’s hard to not take that personally.”
But, for every one person with their head down and eyes averted, there were half a dozen people willing to listen and/or donate whatever they could. In the end, volunteers would agree that the day was well worth it and a pleasure to be part of.

2,000lbs of potatoes collected before noon at Zehrs Beechwood

Steinmann Mennonite Church provided pick-up trucks and drivers to transport the 17, 500 lbs of potatoes to Steckle Heritage Homestead where they are now kindly being stored in an underground cellar.

Volunteer Driver, "Sweet" and Valerie Green, the Executive Director of Steckle Heritage Homestead

Great thanks goes out to Glenn Stewart for contacting and organizing with the churches and supermarket locations, John Lambert for also coordinating the event, Zehrs Markets, Sobeys, Valu-Mart, Food Basics, and Central Fresh Market and all the managers for allowing the temporary take over of their stores, Steinmann Mennonite for transporting the spuds, Steckle Heritage Homestead for providing storage space, the shoppers who donated at supermarkets across the region, and of course, thank you to all of the dedicated church volunteers who brought home the gold!

GO, SUPERMARKET BLITZERS, GO!

Ready,set,GO…to Supermarket Day this Saturday!

February 19, 2010

Just this week, on Tuesday, the HoF Emergency Food Hamper Program distributed more food hampers than ever before in its 60 year history. A total of 278 households, ranging from individuals to families of 6 or more, visited the 807 Guelph Street location for emergency food assistance the day after Monday’s holiday. Unfortunately, this high level of demand is not an isolated anomaly but rather, a sign of the times. This past year, the Emergency Food Hamper Program saw a 16.8 per cent increase in demand, distributing a record 33, 154 food hampers, with demand still steady into 2010.

Now, more than ever, House of Friendship programs need your donations. With  this in mind, you can help  by, you guessed it, donating potatoes! Yes! Potatoes!

In Potato Blitz spirit we asked patrons of the program how important receiving potatoes in their hamper was to them. Here are some of their responses:

HoF volunteer hamper packer moves past the potato bin. This bin must be re-filled repeatedly throughout an average day at the Emergency Food Hamper Program.

“I can eat [potatoes] every day. They are good protein, with lots of vitamins, carbs and energy. For me, they are filling, and not getting them in my hamper makes a big difference for me.”
-single male patron

“We don’t use the program often, but when we do, I always need the potatoes. They are something I get when I go grocery shopping. They go further than other items in the hamper-3 mashed potatoes are more filling that a box of KD.”
-mother of family of four

“I always, always, need potatoes. They’re very important, my hamper doesn’t last as long without them.”
-single female patron

“They are high in potassium which is really important for my body.”
-female patron with liver disease

Why not plan your grocery shopping (and donating) around the House of Friendship’s Supermarket Potato Blitz this weekend!

Tomorrow, Saturday February 20th, between 10:00am and 3:00 pm volunteers from nine local churches will be at the doors of supermarkets across KW collecting potatoes and donations in support of  House of Friendship programs, such as the Emergency Food Hamper Program.

Supermarket Blitz 2009 Zehrs Beechwood

So, please, stop by our Blitz! You can donate your potatoes and/or cash at any of these locations:

Central Fresh Market
Zehrs – Beechwood
Zehrs – Pioneer Mall
Zehr’s – Glenridge Mall
Zehrs – Conestoga Mall
Zehrs – Stanley Park Mall
Food Basics – Fairway Rd
Sobeys – Columbia
Sobeys – Highland Rd.
Sobeys – Bridgeport Rd.
Sobeys – Weber & Northfield

Also, if you can’t make it this weekend, donations can be made at the Emergency Food Hamper Program, 807 Guelph St., Kitchener, (Mon.- Fri., 9am-4pm), at the Charles Street Men’s Hostel, 63 Charles St., E., Kitchener (anytime) or mailed to House of Friendship, PO Box 1837, Kitchener N2G 4R3.

Food for thought: How important are potatoes in your diet?