Food for Thought Blog

Connecting Community – Food, Elections and Vaccine Access

September 20th, 2021Agencies

Throughout the Community Food Assistance Network, food is often the first step in connecting families with other vital programs, services, and supports.

On September 13, Victoria Hills Community Centre was an example of how the community can benefit from programs coming together to create a hub of services for neighbourhood residents.

In Waterloo Region, there are 100+ community programs and agency partners – known as the Community Food Assistance Network – working together to provide access to emergency food and other vital supports and services.

From the Victoria Hills Community Centre, area residents in need of food assistance can access a three day supply of fresh, frozen, and non-perishable food items from the House of Friendship’s Neighbourhood Hamper Program. Operating from a centralized location that is close to people in need of food assistance, ensures that programs like the House of Friendship’s Neighbourhood Hamper Program, is not just accessible but also poised to connect community members to additional vital supports and services.

Ease of entry to program locations removes any potential obstacles or barriers, such as transportation, and increases the likelihood that people will access these programs and receive emergency food assistance. For the House of Friendship, being centrally located and accessible helps bring people that might not otherwise connect with their services, and is an opportunity to connect community members to other outreach services and community development programs.

Nurturing Community Involvement

Neighbourhood-based locations, like community centres, have the added benefit of attracting and hosting social services from outside neighbourhood boundaries. Recently the Victoria Hills Community Centre hosted the Region of Waterloo’s Mobile Vaccination Bus and an advanced polling station for the upcoming Federal election, on September 20.

  • The Waterloo Region Vaccine Distribution Task Force is focused on bringing COVID-19 vaccines to residents in the community. The mobile bus brings vaccines to various neighbourhoods to further reduce barriers to getting vaccinated.
  • The advanced polling station for the Federal election provided an opportunity for neighbourhoods members to have their voices heard.

Providing centralized access to these three services, at the same time and places makes it much easier and convenient for people to actively participate in their community.

The House of Friendship plays a critical role in supporting community members and ensuring access to food assistance, as well as additional supports and services that support a person’s overall health, well-being and connection within their community. Each week, more than 100 area residents visit the Victoria Hills Community Centre to access the House of Friendships Neighbourhood Hamper Program. Staff and volunteers are able to connect with community members and share information they may not be aware of, whether that is voting in an election or receiving a COVID-19 vaccination.

The Neighbourhood Hamper Program at Victoria Hills Community Centre is open on Mondays from 2:00pm to 3:30pm and provided in partnership with the City of Kitchener and The Food Bank of Waterloo Region. Call 519-497-0731 for more information.