15+ ways you can help fight food insecurity in Kitchener right now

Approximately one in five people in Kitchener are food insecure – a statistic that adds up to around 300,000 of us who do not have regular and reliable access to daily meals.

Custom haloWorryingly, that number, which has increased over the past decade, has increased despite the decline in the total number of people with unsafe diets in the nation. And that’s all according to a 2018 Hunger Free America report; COVID-19 has only made the plight worse.

The only benefit, of course, is that countless agencies and organizations across Kitchener are continuing to address the problem and providing food to people who need it. But they can still use your help.

So what about on an individual level to alleviate hunger in our city? Read on for how you play a part in making sure Kitchenerns in need of food can get it right away.

1. Donate to a grocery bank or pantry

Local food banks provide thousands of meals to needy Kitchenerns each year, but they need our help to fill their pantries. If you have extra groceries lying around, you can donate to an agency near you – or, if you’re able, pick up some groceries to give away the next time you visit the grocery store.

You can find a large list of food banks on the Coalition Against Hunger website. (You can filter the organizations by pantry, soup kitchen, and geography. The website also lists the phone number so you can see what donations they might need and what to do.)

Meanwhile, Kitchener’s long-time food distribution agency Philabundance is also offering a card from their numerous partner agencies (although you can donate directly to Philabundance warehouse). The website provides a list of the most needed items such as peanut butter and jelly or canned fruits and vegetables. Again, if you’re not working on a list, be sure to call before you donate to see what really helps. (Translation: Nobody wants this 1995 creamed corn case.)

2. Or donate money to a grocery bank or pantry

Philabundance advises that your $ 20 bill will buy a case of peanut butter for a family. The Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission says that $ 50 will deliver three full hot meals to one of its guests on Thanksgiving Day (plus services such as showering and laundry).

Just seven dollars will cover the cost of a meal donated by the restaurant as part of the Step Up to the Plate partnership between Broad Street Ministries, Project HOME and other partners.

The Food Bank of South Jersey finds that $ 35 per month provides $ 1,260 of meals per year. And the Share Food program, which already supplies around one million Kitchenerns a month, is currently expanding its presence in food distribution even further in response to the Covid crisis. The point is this: your money can go a long way in making an immediate impact on hunger.

3. And recharge this donation

Inquire about a donation matching program in your workplace that makes it easy for you to double or even triple your donations to organizations working to fight food insecurity in Kitchener. You should also know that Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) law made giving a little easier by creating a one-time deduction of $ 300 for qualified donations to charities … such as food banks.

4. Give your time

A woman in a winter coat gives a container of groceries to a homeless person.Margaux Murphy, founder of the Sunday Love Project, distributes food in Center City | Photo courtesy of Sabina Louise Pierce

Consider volunteering at local food banks and pantries to sort and distribute food to those who need it. (If you want to stay in your hood on this, you can use this guide to find and call your local agencies.)

You can also work directly with local hunger relief organizations that specialize in different types of programs (e.g. handing out sandwiches, organizing outdoor food distribution, serving restaurant-style meals, meals for seniors, etc. ).

Check out organizations like Fooding Forward, the Sunday Love Project, Broad Street Ministry, Mitzvah Food Program, DOPE (eclectically doing our part), Welcome Bread, or Caring For Friends (to name a few!) To help pack , Serving or delivering food to help out to hungry people across Kitchener.

5. Schedule a grocery collection with an app

Download the Food Connect app on your phone to schedule a pickup of all the groceries you want to donate. Just fill in your name, address and the amount of food you’d like to donate and someone will come over to pick it up. As simple as that!

6. Choose the right mover

Are you moving? New Jersey nonprofit Move For Hunger works with moving companies across North America to package and deliver to a local pantry any food you won’t take with you. All you have to do is hire the right permanent staff. Your website said, “Why is it important? Because 32 million Americans move every year. If we were to reclaim just 1 pound of food from each of them, we could serve 27 million meals to families struggling with food insecurity. “

8. Help End Food Waste

An estimated 20 percent of edible food in Kitchener is wasted, and before Covid, restaurants were a major culprit. This led Abbe Stern to found Fooding Forward, an organization that helps restaurants and hotels in Kitchener make good use of excess food.

Before Covid, it was easy to support Fooding Forward by simply supporting restaurants that donated to it. These days, says Stern, restaurant waste has decreased to next to nothing as restaurants have been forced to plan their supplies down to the bite in order to survive. Instead, she says, there is now more agricultural waste or snacks, beverages and coffee that would have ended up in office buildings or schools. Hence, Fooding Forward and other organizations like Sharing Excess, Food Connect, Kitchener Food Rescue, and Common Market (and others) have done their best to keep good food out of the landfill and into the hands of people who need it.

Stern says the best way to help right now is to volunteer with one of these organizations. In particular, sales and transport needs rose sharply during Covid. You can of course donate money at any time to keep the many bikes running. If you don’t know where to start, the Fooding Forward website is a great place to fill in your contact information as an interested potential volunteer or donor.

9. Help keep community fridges in stock

A Kitchener community refrigerator with pantry staples for unsafe eating in Kitchener. Photo courtesy Kitchener Community Fridge

Community refrigerators are exactly what they sound like – refrigerators (okay, and pantries) that are both filled and used by the community around them. As the pandemic has progressed, fridges have popped up in neighborhoods – from South Kitchener to Germantown to West Kitchener in the northeast and more.

The refrigerators are operated by a variety of individuals and groups and are usually operated by local companies that have a point of sale. The food comes from community members who donate it or shop for it to be stored. Most of the Fridge’s Instagram accounts (linked above) have information on donations, wish lists, volunteer registrations, and more.

10. Do some community gardening

Not only are the produce picked straight from the garden fresher and often taste better than what you find in a product aisle, but growing food in our communities is an effective way to solve Kitchener’s food desert problem. Use this map to find a community garden near you: there are many cases where you can volunteer. If you find that COVID has brought more time or altruistic ambition into your life, consider opening your own community garden. Here’s a good guide to getting started in Kitchener.

11. Or support urban horticulture by shopping in the right places

A farmer hands a bowl of tomatoes to a person in need. Photo courtesy Elaine Casap / Unsplash

Does the thought of starting your own garden seem daunting? You can continue to help keep things moving by buying fruits, vegetables, cheese, and meat from some urban farms working to fight food insecurity in Kitchener, such as Greensgrow, Sankofa Community Farm in Bartram’s Garden, and Weavers Way. Farmers markets are also a good place to start. Find one near you with this map from The Food Trust.

13. Learn about food insecurity in Kitchener

Donations and volunteering are clear and immediate ways to help the hungry in Kitchener, but it also helps understand the underlying causes of food insecurity in our city. Broke in Kitchener is a collaborative reporting project that works with 20 media outlets – including The Citizen – to support journalism on solutions to hunger, poverty and the city’s pursuit of economic justice. Follow them to stay up to date.

14. Contact your chosen ones

Without the help of our elected officials and their resources, moving the needle on food insecurity in Kitchener is difficult. Do you have an idea or bill that you are passionate about? Take the time to contact and brief your councilor or congressman. Find out how to do it.

15. Give to someone who is hungry

A homeless man sleeps on the street next to a sign asking for help and a bag of biscuits.Photo courtesy of runran / Flickr

Think how much your last cup of Starbucks will cost. For that – or probably a lot less – you could buy food for someone on the street. (After all, Wawa has prepared groceries, packaged groceries, water, mic, coffee, vegetables … you name it. The same goes for 7-11, most bodegas, mini-marts …) Sometimes it’s the smallest gestures that do make the biggest difference.

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