Food Banks in Waterloo | What we can do for each other

Graphic from the Food Bank of Waterloo Region

The Food Bank of Waterloo recently launched its ”Full Bellies=Happy Hearts” summer campaign, encouraging people to join the 1 Million Meals Challenge. Running until August 31 this campaign is focused on ensuring children who rely on food banks and school nutrition programs have access to healthy food throughout the summer months.

According to Food Banks Canada, during the pandemic, the number of Canadian children facing food insecurity and hunger rose from an estimated 12 per cent to 19 per cent nationally. Previously, the government of Canada had been providing the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and Canadian Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) to help families and students make ends meet. However, the food crisis persists as more than 33,000 people in Waterloo region accessed some kind of emergency food service in the past year.

The WUSA Food Support Service at the University of Waterloo has experienced some changes in operations to meet the increasing demand during the pandemic. A non-profit operation, the Food Support Service provides confidential assistance and food hampers to members of the UW community experiencing food insecurity.The service supports the community by offering food hampers and creating unique projects and events to raise awareness of hunger problems. 

The WUSA Food Support Service is entirely run by student volunteers and is available to all UW undergraduate students, graduate students, staff and faculty who possess an active WatCard.

Yet another option for people who are struggling to access food during the pandemic comes from the Meals on Wheels programs. The Food Bank of Waterloo Region acquired more than 4 million pounds of fresh, frozen, and non-perishable food in this past year, a 26 per cent increase compared to pre-COVID levels. To best deliver these resources to the families that need them, the Food Bank of Waterloo Region’s Meals on Wheels program is expanding to provide deliveries of premade meals and food hampers to people who are unable to cook or visit a grocery store during COVID-19.