Food for Thought Blog

The Faces of Hunger: Sydney’s story

September 28th, 2023Awareness, Stories

Everyone has a story—and by sharing stories about food insecurity in Waterloo region, we hope to raise awareness and educate our community that hunger can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time. This is Sydney’s story.

Sydney Keedwell speaking at Waffles in the Warehouse.

At this year’s Waffles in the Warehouse event on September 22, local Métis Chef Sydney Keedwell spoke about her personal experience growing up in a food-insecure household in Kitchener. She shared how her dad used his experience as a former chef to take the food they received from the food bank and use it to its full potential. 

“We would get two bags of potatoes delivered to our house,” Sydney explained. “We’d wash the potatoes, and he would bake them all in the oven. He would bake them, take them out, and he would scoop the insides, and turn those into mashed potatoes. He would cut some up and make them into hash browns. And he would use the ones that he scooped out to make into potato skins and so we would eat those as well. And he would take them all, pack them up, and freeze them.” 

Sydney said her dad also helped others in their community, teaching them how to use their food and make it last. And even though they were food-insecure, Sydney remembers a time when her dad gave some of the food they had to a hungry boy. At around four years old, Sydney had been eating a bowl of chili in her kitchen and then went to her room. When she returned to the kitchen, she was shocked to see a little boy sitting in her seat at the table eating her chili. 

“My dad didn’t yell,” she said. “He didn’t tell him to go. He didn’t say what are you doing here? He just pulled me aside and he said, ‘let him finish it.’ We didn’t even know this child. He simply just let him finish. He asked him if he needed anything else. My dad gave him a few snacks out of our cupboard and sent him on his way.” 

This wasn’t the only time Sydney witnessed food insecurity. At school, Sydney learned that many of her peers didn’t have food for lunch. 

“The school did what they could,” she said. “They would provide a packet of Ritz crackers filled with cheese, a granola bar, and maybe sometimes a piece of fruit and a juice box.” 

At 17 years old, Sydney followed in her dad’s footsteps and became a chef. Currently, she is the chef at Aadanjige Café and Catering as well as the food and nutrition coordinator at White Owl Native Ancestry Association, a youth-led non-profit that provides support and programming to Indigenous people. In this role, Sydney uses her experience and passion for food to teach people how to utilize food—just like her dad did. 

Watch Sydney’s story