Food for Thought Blog
When Every Call Counts
August 12th, 2021Awareness
Kaylin Epp is the friendly voice operating the Community Food Assistance Network’s Central Line. Since 2020, Kaylin has been responding to community inquires, coordinating deliveries for those self-isolating, and reassuring community members that, even in times of uncertainty, the Community Food Assistance Network is here to meet the need.
Interviewer: Can you tell us about yourself and your role as the Food Assistance Outreach Coordinator?
Kaylin: Hello! My name is Kaylin Epp, I am the Food Assistance Outreach Coordinator and I respond to the calls made into the Food Assistance Network’s Central Line. I connect community members to the Network agencies offering food hampers, meal programs, mental health services, family resources, and shelter support services. The result is simple, community members are connected to the resources that address their food needs and referred to services that support their overall health and wellbeing.
Interviewer: How can households from across Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge receive a delivery?
Kaylin: Community members can call (519) 743-5576 ext. 340 to request a delivery. Deliveries are available for community members who are unable to physically visit a program in person, too ill to leave their residence, are self-isolating, have mental health issues that prevent them from accessing other programs or have young children and transportation barriers. We work with Salvation Army Kitchener and Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank who provide the delivery. This year there have been 2,594 deliveries of hampers to community members’ homes; an average of 370 hamper deliveries each month. It is so important to have this service available for community members who need it.
Interviewer: How many callers have you supported?
Kaylin: Well in the first half of 2021, I took an incredible 1,940 calls. Some callers are new to the area, some are struggling to make ends meet, have lost a job and many have never needed food support before and simply don’t know where to go. It’s clear the community has a need for support, and I am here on behalf of the Community Food Assistance Network to take their call.
Interviewer: Can you speak to the importance of the Central Line?
Kaylin: For the community, it is so important to have a number that people can call to find help without judgement. A lot of people feel ashamed to need support, feel they wouldn’t qualify to receive food, or have a need for food and require other supports as well. With a degree in social work, I am trained to support callers. At the end of the day, everyone deserves access to healthy food and I’m here to help make that happen. For the Community Food Assistance Network, community programs and agency partners, are as unique as our community members’ needs, so when a person’s need is for food and shelter services or food and harm reduction services or food and family resources, I can refer them accordingly. Many times, a teacher, family member, social worker, or nurse will call inquiring about a food hamper for someone they know has unique circumstances and I can provide the information they need.
Interviewer: How has the Central Line added to the Community Food Assistance Network?
Kaylin: I think that the Central Line has truly enhanced the capacity and resiliency of the Network. Throughout the pandemic, an increasing number of community members have had questions about accessing food assistance programs. With one call into the Central Line, I can provide information about all of the community programs and agency partners within the Community Food Assistance Network agencies including which agency is closest to the caller. I’m so grateful to be the one-stop-shop on the other end of the line!