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Opening up Food Hampers

After more than four months of construction and operating out of two temporary locations, the Emergency Food Hamper program is back under one roof at its newly renovated 807 Guelph St. site in Kitchener.

The move is the culmination of our dream to change the food distribution centre from the former print shop we moved into in almost 25 years ago to a community space that embodies our values – compassion, dignity, inclusion, justice and hope.

When we moved into the location in 1992, the building was a significant improvement over operating out of the Charles Street Men’s Shelter. However, as community needs grew and our understanding of what it means to serve the community evolved, we realized it no longer reflected our vision of a strong community where all can belong and thrive.

The building was simply stretched to its limits. In 2015, the program served up over 28,000 food hampers compared to only 4,173 in 1985. During days of high demand, people in need of food would line up out the door in all kinds of weather. Staff and volunteers sorting food and packing hampers were working shoulder to shoulder. As hard as we tried, the constraints for the building were making it hard to live up to our values, particularly when it came to the people we serve.

It was time to redevelop the site. After two years of planning, construction started in late August and we moved back in on December 8, 2016.

With a 20-foot extension to the front, the addition of large windows and a wood-beam portico, the building has taken on the look of a country market. We’ve created a more people-friendly place for those in need to get help.

Along with the appealing look come some essential upgrades:

  • The enlarged reception area and redesigned administration area gives those seeking help greater dignity and privacy while they complete their request.
  • We can now offer people opportunities to select foods that suit their tastes and needs.
  • Additional space for receiving, sorting and storing food as well as for packing hampers makes for a more comfortable, safe workplace for staff and volunteers.
  • The enlarged, graded and paved parking lot, complete with curbs and a sidewalk, makes it safer and more efficient for everyone to access the site.