Food4Kids Waterloo Region began in September 2016, when we recognized that there was a gap in food security for children living throughout Waterloo Region, on weekends, and during the 84 days of school breaks.
Starting in the dining room of our founder, we provided bags of nutritious food for 19 kids at 6 schools. With the volunteer and financial support of our incredible community, we have been able to increase our ability to meet the nutritional needs of vulnerable children.
In 2019-20, in Waterloo Region, 600 children living with chronic hunger received weekend support. We also provided daily support during the 12 weeks (84 days) during Winter, Spring and Summer Breaks and during the 4 months when children could not attend school because of COVID-19.
In 2020-21, we will serve over 750 children for the 40 weekends during the school year and provide daily support during the 84 days of school breaks.
The Food4kKids Waterloo Region program is based on these 3 distinct pillars:
Food content and quality: Food provided in weekend packages, and daily during school breaks will be healthy, culturally sensitive and provide for dietary restrictions and allergies.
Access: We provide access by delivering the weekend food directly to children at their school during the school year, and to their homes during school breaks, ensuring a non-stigmatizing model of delivery.
Children: Each child, 14 years and under in a family, will receive their own food package, to ensure nourishment of all children living within severely food insecure homes.
Message from Kelly-Sue Oberle, Executive Director
“Please don’t call mommy!”
It was a Friday morning at 9:15 a.m. when the school’s administrative assistant was leaning over a grade one student, sitting on a too-large chair. The child’s face was pale, and her eyes were red-rimmed and watery. She coughed, sniffled, and shivered slightly with a fever that the administrative assistant could feel through her t-shirt.
“I am going to call your mommy to come and pick you up dear. You are not feeling very well,” she said.
“Please don’t call mommy yet! Please,” the little girl whispered through a sniffle. The administrative assistant couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Most kids are only too happy to go home, especially when they are sick. This little girl was begging her to stay at school.
The administrative assistant waited a few moments, and stated again, “I have to call your mommy. You are sick, and your mommy will want to know.“
The little girl looked up with eyes brimming with tears and said, “Please don’t call mommy yet. If I go home, I won’t get my food bag.”
Thankfully, the bags arrived soon after, and the little girl was on her way home to get well. But this little girl was etched into our hearts and minds. Just how important is food to the children we serve? Over 2,500 children throughout Waterloo Region experience chronic hunger. These vulnerable children cannot access the nutritious food they require to be healthy. They miss meals, and often don’t know when they will eat next. Even one hungry child is too many, but over 2,500 is heartbreaking. Please help.
Most people in our communities would say we live in a fairly affluent community. Statistics show however that “15.6 percent of all children less than 18 years of age are part of a family living with low income.” That represents over 17,000 children and youth throughout Waterloo Region.
Over 2,500 children within our community are living with severe food insecurity.