Food for Thought Blog

Compassionate Community Comes Together to Reduce Hunger and Isolation

May 31st, 2019Agencies

Hunger can be isolating. But in Waterloo’s Sunnydale neighbourhood, food is what brings the community together.

Founded in 1999, in partnership with the House of Friendship, Region of Waterloo, Lakeshore South Community Association (formerly Sunnydale Community Association) and many community partners, Sunnydale Community Centre focuses on improving the quality of life and well-being for residents of the North Waterloo community.

Located in a culturally diverse community which is home to many new immigrant families and many living on low income, the Sunnydale Community Centre is a gathering place where neighbours come together to learn, celebrate and access a variety of programs and services. Programs and services are flexible and may change according to community needs but generally include: Family Outreach Program, Peer Health programs, After School programs, English conversation circles and a weekly Neighbourhood Food Program.

Partnership Makes a Big Impact

The Food Bank of Waterloo Region began providing food for Sunnydale Community Centre in 2008, through the House of Friendship partnership. Over the years, the relationship has evolved and since 2017, The Food Bank has been making weekly deliveries of fresh, frozen and non-perishable food to the Sunnydale Community Centre.

The Food Bank of Waterloo Region has provided more than 350,000 pounds of food to the weekly Neighbourhood Food Program, which is used to supplement the food already available to residents through community garden programs.

The Neighbourhood Food Program runs every Thursday between 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and while there are some guidelines on the quantity each household receives, residents are able to shop and choose items they like and will use. In the last 10 years, the Neighbourhood Food Program has doubled in size, now often serving 80 households, about 250-300 residents per week.

“Families in this community have limited resources and many of the programs and services offered, including the weekly Neighbourhood Food Program offer great opportunities for people to come together and meet each other,” said Linda Kruger, Community Resources Coordinator, House of Friendship.

Neighbourhood Food Program, About More than Just Food

Many of the residents and community members actively volunteer with the Neighbourhood Food Program, helping to unload the truck, bagging food, setting up tables and offering food with their neighbours.

“It’s about bringing people together; people want opportunities to meet their neighbours,” said Kruger. “Connecting and contributing to their community is huge and the Neighbourhood Food Program really assists with that.”

The Neighbourhood Food Days are a great chance for neighbours to meet, exchange recipes and celebrate their cultural differences.

“Recently a Taiwanese and Sudanese resident were chatting about how to cook dried beans,” shared Kruger. “It’s about more than just providing food for your family, it’s about cross-cultural relationship building and that’s remarkable.”

As a House of Friendship neighbourhood program, the vision for the Sunnydale is community is a healthy community where everyone can belong and thrive. To learn more about the Sunnydale Community Centre and how you can help, please email: sunnydale@houseoffriendship.org or call: (519) 883-0410.