Community Food Assistance Network

The Food Assistance Network

The Community Food Assistance Network is a system of more than 100 community agencies and food programs, providing food and connection to other vital supports needed by children, seniors, families and individuals–every day. The Food Bank of Waterloo Region and Cambridge Self Help Food Bank are at the centre of this Network, actively sourcing fresh, frozen and non-perishable food for distribution.

Initiated in the 1980’s by a group of local social service agencies, this incredible food system has grown and evolved with our changing community and food industry to help alleviate food insecurity. It has taken years to construct and been recognized with a national food bank innovation award.

No matter where you live in Waterloo Region, people have access to food assistance when they need it because of the Community Food Assistance Network. Whether receiving a food hamper of fresh, frozen and non-perishable food, participating in a school nutrition program, attending a welcoming community meal or a nutrition outreach program, The Food Bank and the Community Food Assistance Network is channeling our community’s energy so no one goes hungry.The Community Food Assistance Network

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Students help deliver food to Ray of Hope Kitchener

Ray of Hope

Food brings people together in different ways. It can drive social change, bridge cultures, create conversations and build communities. At Ray of Hope – a local organization providing life-changing care and services for those struggling with crime, addiction or homelessness – food plays an important role.

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Member Agencies and Programs

Emergency Hampers

Emergency Hamper Programs provide hampers containing a mix of fresh, frozen and non-perishable food to last the household for 3 days. Programs strive to include foods appropriate for the household’s health or cultural needs in addition to personal hygiene and other non-food items depending on availability.

Community Centres

Community Centres provide a hub for neighbours to meet, share ideas and become connected with essential resources.

Community Meals

Community Meal programs provide an opportunity for guests to drop in for a nutritious hot meal and companionship. In addition, staff are able to help visitors find other supports they need.

Shelters and Residential Programs

Shelters and Residential programs across the Region provide a safe place to live, nutritious meals and help finding the path to a stable housing situation.

Food Donations

Community Non-Perishable Food Donations

Community food drives of non-perishable food items are welcome year-round. Food donations can also be made at any grocery store, fire hall or police division in the Region. These donated items are sorted by category, taking food safety into account, by volunteers. This food is paired with fresh and frozen food for distribution to agencies. Community donations of non-perishable food are vital to The Food Bank and the work of the Community Food Assistance Network!

Examples of donated non-perishable food include: peanut butter, canned meat & fish, canned vegetables & fruit, rice, canned soups, chili or stew.

Corporate Non-Perishable Food Donations

Large donations of safe, non-perishable food are received from food industry donors for a variety of reasons such as an error on the package. These donations can be the result of local, provincial or national food procurement and sharing agreements with the Ontario Association of Food Banks (OAFB) and Food Banks Canada.

Perishable Food Donations

The Food Bank does not accept perishable food donations from the general public. Food industry partners such as farmers, retail stores, food packaging or distribution companies donate a variety of fresh and frozen products. The Food Bank’s refrigerated trucks, large cooler and drive-in freezer are essential to enable safe transport and storage of these essential foods. Some donations are the result of OAFB or Food Banks Canada partnerships with provincial and national producer organizations.

Examples of donated perishable food include: milk, eggs, meat, fruit and vegetables, prepared salads, deli meats, cheese, bread and pastries, pre-cooked dinners.

Types of Food Donations

  • Community – Non-Perishable
  • Corporate – Perishable
  • Corporate – Non-Perishable