Food for Thought Blog

How Changes to CERB and EI Will Impact The Food Bank

September 14th, 2020Awareness, In the News

Kitchener, ON – September 14, 2020 – The Federal government recently announced their plan to end the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and more details about the transition towards an updated Employment Insurance (EI) are now available. 

The CERB was initially provided to Canadians experiencing financial difficulties related to the pandemic. And while the CERB has eased the pressure and reduced negative impacts of COVID-19 on some food banks, it also left food banks wondering what post-CERB federal support might look like.  

Nothing will be official until legislation is introduced and Parliament returns at the end of September, but an important item to note is the CERB has been extended for those eligible for maximum benefits. This means, the final scheduled pay period for CERB recipients will be September 26, at which time, CERB recipients eligible for EI will be transitioned to the revamped EI program.  

Click here for more information about how the federal government is supporting Canadians through the next phase of the economy re-opening.  

The Impact to The Food Bank

In addition to the CERB ending, there are also concerns about the impact of deferred payments coming due, lifting of eviction holds, and the end of COVID-19 related benefits for people accessing social assistance. 

The end of these resources and supports means uncertainty and an even greater need to prepare for a possible increase in food assistance.  

At The Food Bank of Waterloo Region, staff and volunteers are anticipating and planning for a 30% increase in food assistance throughout the next year, as the pandemic continues to unfold.  

According to a Statistics Canada survey released in June, nearly one in seven Canadians reported living in a household where food insecurity was an issue within the last month. A significant increase from the 10.5 per cent reported in 2018.  

In Waterloo Region – between March 16 – June 26, there was a 30 per cent increase in the number of new households accessing food assistance, when compared to the same time last year.  

There was also an increase in the number of working families accessing food assistance. Twenty one percent of households that were employed or recently employed in our region accessed food assistance during the first few weeks of the pandemic. Up from 18% during the same time last year.  

While it’s clear the pandemic has impacted all our lives, it has had a significant impact on the most vulnerable people and families in our community.  

In the first 15 weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic – March 16 – June 26 – The Food Bank acquired, coordinated and distributed:  

  • 1,195,756 pounds of food; 
  • 20,491 community meals; 
  • 24,026 food hampers; 
  • 39,119 pre-packaged perishable and non-perishable hampers; and 
  • supported 19,716 people. 
How You Can Help

There is a consistent need for food assistance in our community. The reality is, hunger is on every street, in every neighborhood and community. And that is only amplified during a pandemic.  

There are a few ways you can help ensure no one goes hungry during COVID-19 and beyond:  

Donate Food
  • Contactless donation drop-offs can be done at our distribution centre at 50 Alpine Court, Kitchener, ON, N2E 2M7 
  • Non-perishable donations are also accepted at many local grocery store retailers, please look for The Food Bank donation bin. 
  • For an up-to-date list of our Most Needed Items, click here 
Donate Funds
  • Financial donations allow us the flexibility to fill gaps in our inventory by purchasing the most urgently needed fresh, frozen and non-perishable items. You donate online at:, or by phone at: 519.743.5576 x 224.

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About The Food Bank of Waterloo Region

Founded in 1984, The Food Bank of Waterloo Region (The Food Bank) was the first organization of its kind in Ontario dedicated to providing emergency food. Thirty-five years after incorporation, The Food Bank continues to evolve to meet the needs of the community, ensuring no one goes hungry. As a leader of the Community Food Assistance Network, The Food Bank acquires and distributes more than 5 million pounds of fresh, frozen and non-perishable food to 100+ community programs and agency partners throughout Waterloo Region. The Food Bank is a registered charitable organization. Learn more at:


Jennifer Judges
Communications Specialist
o: 519.743.5576 x236