Food for Thought Blog
COVID-19 Impact Report
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives in one way or another. Many people in our community are feeling the added stress of unexpected job loss, limited budgets, and illness, and are struggling to put food on the table.
As we navigate this unprecedented health crisis, it is comforting to know that Waterloo Region continues to rally in incredibly supportive ways. And you have been a big part of that. Thank you.
During this global pandemic, it is important to say thank you and share how your support makes an impact:
- Vulnerable people and families cannot afford to stock up on food for days at a time. Your support ensures they can access food when needed.
- Many fundraising events have been cancelled. Your generosity helps us acquire and distribute most needed food to the community programs and agency partners.
- Grocery stores and other food industry partners are unable to keep their shelves stocked. We rely on these donations as part of the 5.7 million pounds of fresh, frozen, and non-perishable foods we acquire and distribute annually. Your support helps us fill any gaps in our inventory to ensure emergency food needs are met.
As the situation evolves, so does our approach. Annually we work with 100+ community programs and agency partners – as part of the Community Food Assistance Network – to ensure the most vulnerable in our community have access to the supports they need during COVID-19 and beyond. Right now, due to COVID-19, there are currently 30+ community programs and agency partners operating and supporting the increased capacity.
As you will read in this impact report, we have adjusted our operations to better serve our community and ensure continued delivery of vital food assistance throughout Waterloo Region. Thanks to your support, we can continue this work and are able to prepare for a possible second wave.
What We’ve Done So Far
Like many organizations and communities, we faced some challenges and risks related to COVID-19. In March, as the first wave of the pandemic reached our region, we adapted and adjusted our operations to ensure continued and consistent delivery of essential food services.
This meant significant changes in our day-to-day operations, such as temporarily reducing the number of food distribution locations, prepacking emergency hampers on-site, increasing deliveries throughout the Community Food Assistance Network and limiting the number of staff, volunteers and community members accessing our facility.
In addition, we activated the Community Food Assistance Network Pandemic Business Continuity Plan. This was done in collaboration with the Region of Waterloo Community Services and Public Health Department, to mobilize local resources and continue essential service delivery, while protecting the health and safety of staff, volunteers, and the community.
Collaboration continued to play a key role in our operations. We worked closed with corporate and community partners, such as Linamar, Bingemans and Erb Transport (just to name a few), to acquire, coordinate and distribute more than 2.3 million pounds of fresh, frozen, and non-perishable food to community programs and agency partners.
In the first 15 weeks of COVID-19 – March 16 – June 26 – we saw a 40% increase in food distribution compared to the same time last year, acquired, coordinated, and distributed 1,195,756 pounds of food and pre-packed 39,119 fresh, frozen, and non-perishable food hampers.
There has been an incredible and steady show of support during COVID-19. You, our generous donors, have gone above and beyond financial and food support, donating hand sanitizer, homemade masks, and other personal protective equipment (PPE) that has been shared with our community programs and agency partners.
Donor support allowed The Food Bank to immediately respond to COVID-19 and proactively plan for future and ongoing recovery. As well as execute our role in the REMPP. Donations have been allocated for unanticipated additional expenses, innovative responses, and additional food purchases as a result of the evolving pandemic.
With your support, vital service programs purchased stainless steel lift tables, boxes, Halal food, increased staff hours to deliver new program models and completed urgent building renovations- such as the addition of service windows and plexiglass partitions. Allowing them to continue safely supporting and providing food assistance to thousands in our community throughout the pandemic.
The chart below outlines how your donations have been allocated to The Food Bank but also the Community Food Assistance Network, providing vital service programs with the critical support necessary to manage the increased capacity, support the ongoing delivery of essential services and maintain a healthy, safe, and clean environment for staff, volunteers, and program participants.
Hunger Can Happen to Anyone, Anywhere at Any Time.
There is a consistent need for food assistance in our community. In fact, last year, 34,552 people accessed emergency food assistance in Waterloo Region – that’s 1 in 20 households. Last year, we acquired and distributed 5,711,715 pounds of food to the Community Food Assistance Network and provincial food banks.
- 220 food hampers were distributed every day in Waterloo Region.
- 35% of people accessing food assistance are under the age of 18.