Food for Thought Blog

Ray of Hope Brings People Together

July 10th, 2018Agencies, Stories

Food brings people together in different ways. It can drive social change, bridge cultures, create conversations and build communities.

At Ray of Hope – a local organization providing life-changing care and services for those struggling with crime, addiction or homelessness – food plays an important role.

The Food Bank of Waterloo Region works with more than 100 community program and agencies to provide food assistance to those in need. We are proud to partner with Ray of Hope on a number of important initiatives, from implementing Link2Feed, a cloud-based system to securely track HungerCount data to providing food for their daily meals and evening food hamper program, Marketplace.

Marketplace is a ground-breaking food hamper program that allows those in need of food assistance to grocery shop based on their individual and family needs. Each client is given points (based on their family size) and they use those points to shop for fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables as well as a variety of non-perishable items. All items in the Marketplace have a point value – fresh and frozen produce and vegetables are a lower point value to encourage healthy food choices, while unhealthy snacks and treats have a higher point value. The Marketplace is an appointment-based program that is open Monday-Thursday from 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm.

“Running Marketplace in this format provides people with an opportunity to learn a number of valuable life lessons, such as budgeting and nutrition,” explained Jessica Van Es, Program Director, Ray of Hope.

The food hamper program serves approximately 390 families per month, reaching nearly 900 people in our community.

Each week, Ray of Hope receives food deliveries from The Food Bank that account for approximately 85-90% of food currently used for the Marketplace program and approximately 30% for their Community Meal program. The remaining is generously donated by individuals and community groups who prepare meals for their guests.

Partnerships are crucial to being successful. In 2017, The Food Bank provided 214,539 lb of food that helped Ray of Hope serve 66,624 meals.

“We have built a great relationship with The Food Bank,” shared Jon Hill, Donor Relation Specialist, Ray of Hope. “We know that by working together, we are able to get food to those in need.”

Ray of Hope has been an important part of Waterloo Region since 1967 and continues to evolve and adapt to meet the needs of those who need assistance. To learn more about how the Ray of Hope Community Centre touches lives and how you can help, please visit their website: or call (519)-578-8018×225.