Food for Thought Blog
Food Acts as a Connecting Point at Kingsdale Community Centre
Anyone heading to the Kingsdale Community Centre to pick up food items for their family will always be greeted by a friendly face and a chance to check in.
Access to food brings people together at the food distribution program, which is coordinated by the House of Friendship and operates from the Kingsdale Community Centre. Food is a connecting point for the community, ensuring everyone has access to the programs they need.
The Kingsdale Community Centre food distribution program is part of the Community Food Assistance Network, a system of 100+ community organizations providing food and support to those in need. These organizations include community meal programs, emergency food hamper programs, shelters, and outreach services.
Connecting During COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic kept people separated, but the food distribution program at the Kingsdale Community Centre gave people the chance to get out of the house, talk to their neighbours and connect with the staff and volunteers coordinating the emergency food assistance services.
Alissa Sauder, a Community Development Worker at the Kingsdale Community Centre, said staff make sure to check in with everybody coming through their doors.
“Someone is asking how you’re doing and knows your story,” Sauder said. “They can say ‘how was your granddaughter’ or ‘have you seen this person’ or that kind of thing.”
While some food hampers were delivered, Sauder said many people wanted to come to the Community Centre to see and talk to other people.
“It’s vital, especially when people are isolated,” she said.
Online Cooking Programs
House of Friendship began providing cooking programs prior to the the COVID-19 outbreak and classes continued online throughout the pandemic. Sauder said one advantage to providing the sessions online is that participants are able to learn how to cook nutritious food right at home in their own kitchens and with their family members participating as well.
“They get to experience every piece of the recipe, so they’re actually learning more cooking skills,” Sauder said.
When the adult and kids cooking classes meet online, group members are able to chat about what’s going on in their lives and connect with other community members, helping many who are new to Canada and the Kingsdale neighbourhood settle and connect with neighbours
Supported by The Food Bank of Waterloo Region, the House of Friendship food distribution program provides weekly access to emergency food hampers and also bundles fresh, nutritious ingredients for those who are participating in the monthly cooking program Sauder tries to gear recipes towards ingredients she knows participants will be able to access through the food distribution program. She also makes sure there’s plenty of flexibility in recipes so people can substitute with whatever they have on hand.
“While I’m planning a recipe for that week, it’s certainly a thought about what foods we have access to, how easily can people get this themselves?” Sauder said.
There are usually ten to twelve participants in the adult cooking class each week, and eight to twelve in the children’s program.
Nutritious Food Supply
The Food Bank of Waterloo Region’s support of the Kingsdale Community Centre food assistance program means that members of the Kingsdale community always have access to fresh, nutritious food, including a good selection of vegetables. People accessing the programs are able to choose the food that works best for them, ensuring they have food dignity.
Sauder said they appreciate the consistent supply offered by working with The Food Bank of Waterloo Region, so no one in the community ever needs to worry about when they’ll get their next nutritious meal.
Call For Volunteers
The House of Friendship is actively welcoming community members to volunteer and support food distribution programs, especially unpacking trucks in the morning and cleaning up once food is distributed.
Together, we are resilient and can continue to meet our community’s needs with dignity and respect for all. To learn more about the Community Food Assistance Network and to get involved, click here.
To learn more about the Community Food Assistance Network and to get involved, click here.
To donate to The Food Bank, click here
To join our supportive team of volunteers, click here
If you need food assistance, click here