Get to Know the Community Food Assistance Network

Wendi Campbell
Chief Executive Officer
The Food Bank of Waterloo Region

Cameron Dearlove
Executive Director
Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank

Q. Why is it so important to have two “anchor” organizations for the Community Food Assistance Network? What does that mean for the other social service agencies?

A. Wendi:

Our organizations have different strengths and capacities. By formalizing our partnership, we are able to bring together the resources that complement each other and better serve the community. Our focus, capacity and extensive delivery network allows us to accommodate a broad range of food in large quantities. We can then transport that food to community programs and agency partners, helping them serve the greatest number of people with the highest quality of food.

A. Cameron

The word that comes to mind for me here is “consistency”. Agencies across Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge can expect to receive the same quality food and service regardless of where they’re located. That means participants are able to depend on them more reliably.

Q. What will the impact of your partnership be?

A. Wendi

Partnering with the Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank allows us to be more strategic. When you have two organizations working together and collecting data, there’s more information to help you figure out where there are gaps or areas for improvement. We’ll be able to look at that data from a higher-systems level to find where we can be more efficient, where our processes can be more streamlined. And, at the end of the day, that means more food getting to people who might otherwise go hungry, which is what both of our organizations are so passionate about.

A. Cameron

If we’re doing it well, the change should be invisible to those accessing food. It’s really about making sure that behind the scenes we’re working together as effectively as possible to leverage our combined resources. But I do think people will see that if they move to a different neighbourhood, for instance, they’re going to have the same quality food even if they’re getting it from a different agency. There will be continuity there, which is really important in situations where people are dealing with food insecurity and poverty.

Q. Why is the Community Food Assistance Network so important?

A. Wendi

The need in our community is so great. The reality is that the demand for services is so high, and that’s unlikely to change in the near future. It’s our responsibility to our neighbours to ensure we take care of them, that they’re not forced to choose between paying their rent or feeding their kids. No one should have to make that kind of choice and that’s why the Community Food Assistance Network is so vital.

A. Cameron

Food is one of our basic needs. People’s access to healthy food impacts them in so many ways – both physical and mental health is really dependent on the food we consume. By feeding people who would otherwise go hungry, we’re ensuring they can participate in society and achieve their full potential.

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