Food for Thought Blog

Fresh Approaches – Winter 2021

February 8th, 2021Newsletters

Click here to download thE WINTER 2021 Newsletter

Executive Message

Message from Wendi

5,041,182 pounds of food.

That’s the weight of 500 elephants. Or seven jumbo jets! This incredible amount of food was acquired, coordinated, and distributed to a network of 100+ community programs and agency partners in Waterloo Region last year – helping an incredible 33,355 individuals get the nourishment they need.

When the pandemic hit last spring, it meant a huge threat to people already struggling with food insecurity, and 2020 was one of the toughest challenges we’ve ever faced as a community and as an organization.

But you were there to help us weather the crisis, going above and beyond to hold over 1,200 food drives, distributing 230 hampers and serving 1,475 community meals every single day. Watching our community show up for each other so heroically will be one of the most enduring lessons of the pandemic.

And while we don’t know what the upcoming months will bring, I know that having you behind us will be the key to ensuring essential food support services continue for those in need. Together we will keep feeding our hungry neighbours, no matter what 2021 has in store.

Thank you so much for your generosity!

Wendi Campbell
Chief Executive Officer
The Food Bank of Waterloo Region

Your Gifts in Action


In Ontario, the need for food banks was already on the rise before COVID-19.

In Waterloo Region, after the onset of the pandemic, there was a 30% increase in the number of 1st time households accessing food assistance.

19% of people accessing food assistance in Waterloo Region are employed or recently employed.

Since March 2020, in Waterloo Region, we have:

  • Acquired, coordinated and distributed 3,461,588 pounds of food.
  • Pre-packed 69,033 fresh, frozen and non-perishable hampers.

Through our community programs and agency partners, we have:

  • Completed 2,752 deliveries.
  • Supported 208,675 people.

1 OUT OF 2 FOOD BANK VISITORS are worried about eviction or defaulting on their mortgage in the next two to six months, and 93% borrowed money from friends and family, accessed a payday loan, or used a credit card to help pay for monthly necessities.
Source: Feed Ontario Report 2020

FRESH IDEAS to Fight Hunger

Help is on the Line

Q&A with Kaylin Epp, Food Assistance Outreach Coordinator

Kaylin Epp is the friendly voice our neighbours hear on the line when they call to inquire about food support. With a degree in social work, she is trained to go above and beyond for callers, connecting them with resources to meet their needs far beyond food. She now runs our outreach phone line full time – thanks to the support of donors like you!

Why is the Food Assistance Line such an essential service?

The phone line received 15 calls a week in early March, 2020. As soon as a State of Emergency was announced, we got 61 calls. The line saw a 300% increase in 2020, so it’s clear that the need has become more urgent and more widespread as our community copes with the ongoing effects of COVID-19 into 2021.

It’s so important to have a number that people can call to find help without judgment. A lot of people feel ashamed to need support, or don’t know whether they even qualify to receive food. Everyone deserves a full belly at the end of the day, and I’m here to help make that happen.

What are some of the main reasons people need food support?

Some of our callers are worried they don’t have enough food to last until their next paycheck. Some are new to the area and have no idea where to find help. Some are struggling to feed their families, or have lost a job and never needed food support before. And for those isolating in their home, I can coordinate a delivery.

Many times, a teacher, social worker or pastor will call, inquiring about a food hamper for someone they know. It’s truly a snapshot of our community, and I’m so grateful to be the “one-stop-shop” on the other end of the line!

What are the different ways you can meet different needs?

Depending on the needs of the caller, I can connect them with food hampers, meal programs or shelter support. But now that the position is full-time, I can dive deeper with each client, referring them to mental health services, family resources – even things like winter boots and coats for the little ones. Building these relationships is the key to making sure no one falls through the cracks – and donors are the only way this is possible.

The Food Assistance Line is just one of the innovative ways your financial support helps confront food insecurity in our community. Help reach more of your neighbours in 2021 by giving online at


Forklift Purchase Helps The Food Bank to Deliver More Food

Last spring, we asked for help with a number of urgent needs, including more freezer and cooler space and a new forklift.

More than 75% of the 5,995,195 pounds of food acquired, coordinated, and distributed to local community programs, agency partners and provincial food banks last year was touched by a forklift. Having an adequate number of forklifts is essential to our operations.

Not long ago, 70% of the food we received was in boxes or cans. Non-perishable food is forgiving – it can sit on shelves for days and doesn’t require refrigeration. Today, more than 64% of the food donations we distribute is fresh or frozen. This is incredible for community health but comes with a new set of challenges.

Donations of perishable food must be moved quickly to a refrigerator or freezer in order to maintain the cold chain. Otherwise, the food will spoil, rendering it useless. The only way to keep food moving efficiently through our warehouse was to purchase a new forklift.

The community’s response to our request was extremely generous and thanks to the community’s support, we were able to purchase the essential new equipment. Our new reach forklift has allowed us to deliver more food where it’s needed most.

In February, we didn’t know what an unusual year 2020 would become. But thanks to your support, we were able to help our community navigate COVID-19 and feed more hungry neighbours.

We truly cannot do this without you. Having your continued support in 2021 means we can overcome the ongoing challenges of COVID-19 to keep feeding hungry neighbours in our community. Give online now at


Your Impact During a Crisis

These are just some of the ways a global pandemic affects our neighbours – and how YOUR support makes a difference:

  • 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 of our fundraising events have been cancelled. Your generosity helps us acquire and distribute food to our community programs and agency partners.
  • Grocery stores and other food industry partners are unable to keep their shelves stocked. Your support helps us fill any gaps in our inventory to ensure emergency food needs are met in 2021.

Your Gifts in Action

Keep on Trucking!

One of the biggest impacts of COVID-19 has been the pressure on our transportation and delivery services. Using our fleet of refrigerated trucks, our staff and volunteer teams spend on average of 170 hours on the road every week for The Food Bank, we’re in urgent need of three new trucks in 2021. You can help keep food moving for those who urgently need it with a special gift today!