Kitchener’s one-stop shop to find free food across the city during COVID-19

One of Kitchener’s earliest measures in its response to the coronavirus pandemic, in addition to closing non-essential businesses and asking people to stay home, was to provide free groceries to residents of a number of distribution centers across the city put.

These places quickly emerged as important places for Kitchenerns struggling to find food, and the city often struggled to keep up with demand at first.

This meant that many websites were added in a short amount of time and communicating about their locations became the next challenge. Some news organizations have tried to fill in the loopholes, but it has been difficult to keep track of all the changes without a proper database.

With that in mind, the city recently unveiled a website that is just that: a database for all Kitchenerns to know how to get free groceries (and where) during the coronavirus shutdown.

The new website, found at, not only offers a map of all of the Kitchener food sites, but also a breakdown of who can go to each site.

There are four categories of food distribution centers in the city: standard locations, student meals, senior meals, and outdoor locations.

The standard locations can be visited by any resident to receive one box of groceries per household. They are open two days a week (Mondays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.). Food boxes contain either non-perishable products or fresh produce, depending on the day.

The grounds can also be visited by any resident, but have different opening times, also listed on the city’s new website, and amount to a meal instead of a box of groceries.

There are food locations for schoolchildren at 83 locations in the city where children or young people can get food. Times vary in each location, but like the time for any other type of food center, see the city’s new website.

The Kitchener Corporation for Aging (PCA) operates 17 locations for residents 60 and older for free food, and six locations operated by Kitchener Parks and Recreation for residents 55 and older. Residents must call for Essen in advance if going to any of the PCA locations, but not one of Parks and Rec.

Kitchener also took language into account when releasing its new food location database – something it has had mixed success with as more information and tools have been developed for COVID-19.

The website is also available in five languages ​​other than English, including Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Russian, and French.

It is also advised that the food centers will not replace the food pantries that are also available to residents during the COVID-19 pandemic or other times of the food crisis, and will provide contact numbers for various resources on the network.

This article is part of Broke in Kitchener, collaborative coverage Project among more than 20 news organizations focusing on economic mobility in Kitchener. Read all of our reports below

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