Food for Thought Blog

The Food Bank Awarded “Capacity Building Grant”

July 29th, 2019Awareness

Earlier this year, The Food Bank of Waterloo Region was awarded a 2018 Capacity Building Grant from Feed Ontario and Whole Food Markets. The grant provides food banks in Ontario with funding to grow their capacity to accept, store and distribute fresh food to adults and children living with hunger.

Funds from the grant were used to purchase essential equipment for the Fresh Approaches Food Centre, such as stainless steel bun racks, sheet pans and a commercial potato peeler.

Capacity Boost Grant Supports Fresh Approaches Food Centre’s Daily Operations

The investments made, thanks to the 2018 Capacity Building Grant from Feed Ontario and Whole Food Markets, were pivotal in our day-to-day operations and have helped us increase the types of non-perishable food acquired and distributed to the 100+ community programs and agency partners we work with.

The stainless steel bun racks and sheet pans are essential for processing and freezing fresh fruits and vegetables. A critical step in freezing any fresh fruit or vegetable is the practice of Individual Quick Freezing (IQF), which allows the food to freeze faster and more evenly, ensuring a superior texture is maintained. Staff and volunteers in the Fresh Approaches Food Centre mimic this industry technique by arranging the prepared produce on the sheet pans. Once a bun rack is full; volunteers move it to the freezer, before packaging.

The bun racks and pans serve as portable vertical storage. Volunteers are able to easily and efficiently move product around between stations. Each rack has the capacity to hold hundreds of pounds of product, freeing up counter space and increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables processed.

Potato Peeler Helps Provide More Ready-to-Cook Vegetables

Peeling vegetables is one of the most time consuming and cumbersome aspects of processing root vegetables. As part of the grant, we were able to purchase a commercial potato peeler that is capable of peeling potatoes, carrots, beets, parsnips and other thin-skinned root vegetables. The peeler, which can peel 15 pounds of product in 90 seconds has increased efficiencies and dramatically reduces the amount of time and volunteer support required for this task.

Many of our community programs and agency partners do not have the volunteer support, tools or space to efficiently or safely prepare vegetables for their programs. The potato peeler allows us to provide emergency hamper and meal programs with ready-to-cook vegetables, giving back time to the staff and volunteers, allowing them to better meet their participant’s needs.

“I was really impressed with the quality of the processed potatoes we received. I used the potatoes on a day when I was also running a gardening program at the shelter. The pre-prepared potatoes allowed me to still make a healthy meal for residents when I had less time for meal prep.”

Pamela, Anselma House. 

We are grateful for the support of our industry partners Feed Ontario and Whole Food Markets in furthering the impact of the Fresh Approaches program – bringing more fresh, healthy food to our neighbours in need.