If the last few months have taught us anything, it is that we can’t predict the future but we can plan for it. As we kicked off 2020, I think it’s safe to say none of us imagined how our world and community would change.
You may have heard me say: “hunger can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time” and that really hit home as we faced one of the most difficult times in The Food Bank of Waterloo Region’s history.
For many in our community the “anywhere anytime” happened in March with the beginning of COVID-19. We needed to quickly adapt and adjust our operations to ensure continued service delivery, while maintaining the safety, health and well-being of our staff, volunteers and the community. This couldn’t have been done alone.
In collaboration with the Region of Waterloo Community Services and the Public Health and Emergency Services departments, we executed the Community Food Assistance Network Pandemic Business Continuity Plan. This plan was designed to mobilize local resources ensuring continued delivery of essential services. With support from corporate partners and the community, we acquired, coordinated and distributed 1,195,756 pounds of food; a 40% increase compared to the same time last year.
In partnership with the Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank, we extended service delivery to 7 community programs and agency partners in the Cambridge area, providing 46,451 meals.
While much of our focus remains on COVID-19 and preparing for the new normal, I also want to take a moment to highlight some significant milestones and accomplishments from last year.
I am proud to share that at the 2020 Business Excellence Awards Gala we received the Innovation Award for our Fresh Approaches Food Centre program – a seamless approach to food recovery in our community. The Innovation Award is presented to a business that has created a product or process resulting in increased revenue, job creation, productivity and overall service improvements.
We welcomed 86 corporate and community groups (1,114 people) to our facilities for educational and hands-on food engagement experiences in our food sorting room and the Fresh Approaches Food Centre. As we look beyond COVID-19, we will be updating our food engagement program and looking for new ways to safely welcome you back to our facilities.
With the implementation of a new fleet management software, we are able to better balance the needs of our community programs and agency partners while improving operational efficiencies. During COVID-19, there was a 159% increase in deliveries; from 42 per week pre-COVID-19 to 109 during the peak period.
I hope you see how you – first-hand – have helped us navigate this unprecedented health crisis and support our mission of ensuring no one goes hungry. As always, thank you for your support. Together, we are feeding neighbours.
Chief Executive Officer
Through community partnerships, we obtain and distribute emergency food from our neighbours for our neighbours.
To channel our community’s energy so no one goes hungry.