Food Bank History

A young mother called us from work to obtain emergency food the Saturday before Thanksgiving. She had nothing to feed her two young children. Her husband was too proud to phone for help. They had just arrived in Waterloo Region and had spent their life savings on moving expenses. Both soon found work but needed some assistance until the first paycheque. We directed them to a food bank supported agency for a food hamper.

From the beginning the Food Bank has been a community based organization striving to build effective partnerships within Waterloo Region. The above example is just one instance of how the Food Bank works collaboratively with our 82 member agencies and community food programs to help provide food for the less fortunate.

The Food Bank was initiated in 1982 when the recession began to take its toll on our community. Local non-profit organizations such as the House of Friendship, Salvation Army, Anselma House and St. John's Soup Kitchen were faced with unprecedented requests for food.

After several community meetings these non-profit groups decided to work on forming a "Food Bank". They thought a system could be initiated to access the vast amounts of food discarded by the food industry every day. Perfectly good food was being discarded due to overproduction, mislabeling, damaged packaging or approaching expiry dates. These groups believed that if the food could be picked up, it could be passed on to the relief agencies, which would in turn distribute the food to the people who needed it.

The community response to this initiative was encouraging. Many local food suppliers were willing to see their products go to a worthy cause rather than be wasted. The non-profit groups were able to spend less time and resources searching for food donations and were able to focus their energy on program delivery and prevention. And community volunteers came forward in abundance.

Shortly thereafter, in 1984, the Food Bank of Waterloo Region was founded as a non-profit, registered charitable organization.