Food for Thought Blog

Food Provides Relief at Safe Haven Youth Services

November 8th, 2018Agencies, Stories

Imagine for a moment that you are a youth or child and you don’t have access to food or your home isn’t a safe place. That the streets feel like a safer place than your own home. For more than 400 youth in Waterloo Region, that is a reality.

Safe Haven Youth Services  – located at Lutherwood’s Weber Street. location – works with youth between the ages of 12-17 (up to their 18th birthday) experiencing crisis, conflict or difficulty in their home and offers them a safe alternative to living on the streets. Serving vulnerable youth who are at risk of being homeless, the program offers immediate admission and services for up to 10 youth at a time, on a 24 hours a day, seven days a week basis.

“We offer a variety of programs to help youth and children facing crisis situations be successful in life and home,” said Lindsey White, Program Supervisor, Safe Haven Youth Services. “We work closely with a number of government and community partners – such as The Food Bank of Waterloo Region – to ensure youth and children have the support necessary to be successful at home and once they leave the program.”

Partnerships Make the Difference

A partnership that spans more than 20 years, Safe Haven Youth Services relies on The Food Bank to provide healthy and nutritious food options for their program participants. More than 90% of all food available at Safe Haven Youth Services is provided by The Food Bank. In 2017 that worked out to 12,749 pounds.

“Without the support of The Food Bank, we wouldn’t have food,” explained White. “There isn’t food insecurity here because we don’t have to worry about where we are going to get our food each day. We know the kids are going to have a variety of good quality food.”

The Food Bank delivers twice a week – using refrigerated trucks – to provide a balance of perishable and non-perishable food items, used for three meals daily and snacks. White explains that many of the youth have never sat around a dinner table and don’t know what it is like to have that type of experience. “Quite honestly, many of them can’t believe they can just walk to the cupboard or refrigerator and access food.”

For the staff at Safe Haven Youth Services, food is an opportunity to bring people together and connect with those currently accessing the programs and services. “The youth are involved in the preparation and cooking and they love it! It’s a great way to build relationships and have open conversations with them,” said White.

Safe Haven Youth Services provides three paths to services:

  • Crisis Services: offers immediate admission to their shelter on a 24 hour/7 day a week basis to youth – ages 12- up to their 18th birthday – experiencing a crisis and needing a safe place to stay.
  • Respite Support: offers parents/caregivers and youth a break by providing short-term temporary care of youth who are experiencing difficulties in their home environments.
  • Life Launch Services: offers shelter and supports to youth who have accessed Crisis Services and are looking for independent living housing options.

Safe Haven Youth Services strives to provide every youth with the resources and support necessary to address their immediate crisis and to build the skills required to prevent re-occurrence. To learn more about how Safe Haven Youth Services and how you can help, please visit their website: or call (519).749.1450.