Food for Thought Blog

Nourishing Neighbours: Increasing Food Access During COVID-19

September 13th, 2021Agencies

The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced incredible, unprecedented challenges to our community. Amidst all the challenges, however, are great examples of how the Community Food Assistance Network worked together to safely operate and support neighbours in need of food hampers and meals.

Adapting Helps Meet Community Needs During Pandemic

The Trinity Community Table program for example was supported by The Food Bank of Waterloo Region to adapt its services so that neighbours in need of food assistance could continue to be nourished. Serving, the community in Galt, Cambridge, Trinity Community Table is entirely run by a devoted and dynamic group of volunteers who have prepared home-cooked meals from the kitchen in Trinity Anglican Church for 29 years.

In 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic was first declared, the task of serving a home-cooked meal was not feasible for volunteers supporting Trinity Community Table as it involved cooking in a kitchen where physical distancing could not be maintained. This barrier to service was overcome when The Food Bank worked with the Region of Waterloo Community Services and the Public Health and Emergency Services departments to develop heightened safety protocols, provide PPE, and distribute foods suitable for bagged meals. These supports enabled the volunteers at Trinity Community Table to successfully adapt their program and now, approximately 1,000 bagged lunches are safely served monthly.

“The Food Bank and Trinity Community Table each have our own parts and responsibilities [in the network] but share the same impetus to serve,” explained RoseMarie Baker, volunteer, Community Trinity Table “This has meant that we could continue to serve healthy meals and snacks to a community that was already vulnerable to being food insecure.”

Community Programs Manage Increase in Emergency Food Needs

By working together, Trinity Community Table has served more than 7,846 meals in 2021 and collectively, the Community Food Assistance Network has served 421,739 meals, an 11.36 percent increase compared to the same time frame last year. While the spread of COVID-19 exacerbated food insecurity, increasing the need for emergency food assistance throughout Waterloo Region, the vital services – as part of the Community Food Assistance Network – were supported and able to adapt and continue serving the most vulnerable people in our community.

As Bonny Jensen, Chairperson, Trinity Community Table, explains, “I feel relieved that I don’t have to run around getting product because I know The Food Bank will be providing us with what we need to serve the community.”

The sense of security provided, has enabled the volunteer team at Trinity Community Table to undertake unique projects such as maintaining garden plots and harvesting fresh herbs and vegetables to make every meal fantastically flavourful.

Now, with new safety procedures in place, the appetizing aromas of a home cooked meal are emanating from the Trinity Anglican Church kitchen once again. When safe to do so, Trinity Community Table will bring back gatherings around a table to enjoy a healthy meal and the socialization that comes with it.

To learn more about Trinity Community Table, visit: trinityanglican.on.ca/community-table