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Review of Emergency Food Distribution in Waterloo Region | Questions and Answers | Update January 2008
June 27, 2006
Waterloo Region Shares- Review of Emergency Food Distribution in Waterloo Region
Members of our community's food assistance network came together over the last year to take a close look at how the entire food sharing system is working in Waterloo Region and to identify any areas for improvement.
Initiated by The Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank, The Food Bank of Waterloo Region, House of Friendship and The Region of Waterloo Social Services, research involving food assistance organizations and customers/patrons was conducted throughout 2005/2006. Representatives from emergency hamper programs, community meal programs, shelter and residential programs, community resource and outreach programs, and regional government were also actively engaged in the process.
We have been providing food assistance to neighbours in our community for over 20 years. This need continues today. Periodically, it is important for us to evaluate the system as a whole and look beyond the individual agency assessments, to understand how well the system is functioning overall. It was felt that a review could help to identify strengths, gaps and any new opportunities to work together to better serve our community.
The Food Assistance Network was developed over time in response to community needs. It consists of a complex and somewhat inter-related system with over 50 organizations of varying sizes, delivering more than 100 different programs and services.
While there are many positive aspects, such as diverse grassroots activities, a strong set of values and central philosophies, good human resource capacity and partnerships, there may also be ways to improve the consistency and cohesion of service.
The recently completed final report, "Waterloo Region Shares - A Review of Emergency Food Distribution in Waterloo Region", makes 9 recommendations for improvements in the way the Food Assistance Network is working. They are summarized as follows:
1. Build existing momentum to collectively:
2. Explore ways to better understand who uses our services and why:
3. Improve the capacity to serve customers:
4. Ensure adequate food sources and supply:
Review Emergency Food Distribution in Waterloo Region
Why a Review?
While we all share the same goal of wanting to eliminate the need for food assistance to residents in Waterloo Region, the need continues to be strong and in fact continues to grow. Ensuring adequate safe quality food to residents in Waterloo Region is important to the health and well being of our community. As a result, those involved in our community's food assistance network have come together to take a close look at our food assistance system to see how it is working and to identify any areas where improvements could be made.
The review of our community's food assistance system will help identify how we are providing food assistance across the community and will stimulate discussion of the strengths, any gaps and any new opportunities.
The outcome of the review by the end of December will provide recommendations for improvements. It will also include a suggested implementation plan.
Who is involved?
The Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank, The Food Bank of Waterloo Region, House of Friendship and The Region of Waterloo Social Services (sponsors) initiated the review.
A Working Group including representatives from emergency food hamper programs, community meal programs, shelter/residences, Food Banks and the Region of Waterloo (see attached list) is providing support and input into the project.
Other representatives from all stakeholder groups who have a role in emergency food distribution are also participating in this review.
June, August '05 - Project Working Group (system representatives) meet
July '05- Completion of the Food Security and Emergency Food Assistance Background paper (includes values identification)
August '05 - Research design and methods established
September '05 - Report on other food assistance models outside Waterloo Region
Next Major Activities:
October/November '05 - Gather customer data
November/January '06 - Gather data from service organizations and groups in the emergency food distribution system through a questionnaire process
January /February '06 - opportunity to participate in a community solution building process
March '06 - Prepare and release report
Project Contacts (Sponsors):
Pat Singleton - Cambridge Self Help Food Bank, 519-622-6550
Wendi Campbell - Food Bank of Waterloo Region, 519-743-5576
Deb Schlichter - House of Friendship, 519-742-8327
Noreen Steinacher, Social Services, Region of Waterloo, 519-883-2377
Questions & Answers
1. I understand you are doing a review. Is there an issue that has prompted this review?
Organizations who have been involved in providing food assistance felt it was time to take a look at how well our system is working. The need for food assistance continues to grow. It was felt that a review would help to identify strengths, any gaps and any new opportunities as we look to the future.
2. Why are you doing a review of emergency food assistance now?
Our community has been providing food assistance for over 20 years. Periodically, organizations involved have reviewed and changed how they were assisting individuals and families in our community. We have created this opportunity to review the entire system - beyond individual organizational reviews.
3. What is a food assistance network?
A food assistance network is a group of over 70 organizations that provide emergency and supplemental food to alleviate hunger. Acquiring and distributing food through food hampers, emergency meals, soup kitchens, food banks, drop-in centres, shelters and hostels are examples of ways the organizations work together (a network) to provide help right across the Region of Waterloo.
4. Who is involved in the review?
Representatives from all stakeholder groups who have a role in emergency food distribution are participating in this review. The Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank, The Food Bank of Waterloo Region, House of Friendship and The Region of Waterloo Social Services initiated the review and are the sponsors for the review. These four organizations, individuals who have been customers of food assistance and representatives from emergency food hamper programs, community meal programs, shelter/residences, (see attached list) will be providing input into the project.
5. How much is the review costing? Who is paying for the review?
There are a number of resources coming together to ensure a thorough review is completed including recommendations for change. These resources include significant in-kind support from all stakeholders, Wilfrid Laurier University student support and funding of approximately $35,000 from the Region.
6. What do you expect the gaps to be?
It is premature to speculate what the results of the review will be. We expect to see a draft report by the beginning of February 2006.
7. What do you really hope to accomplish? Will this be another document that sits on a shelf?
Organizations within the food assistance network are very committed to this review and are anxious to discuss the recommendations and develop an action plan based on the findings.
8. How will the recommendations be implemented? Who will implement them?
Once the review is complete, an action plan will be developed based on the recommendations in the report.