Your Monthly Food Bank Update!

During this pandemic things have been uncertain and changing daily but, one things has stayed the same,how generous this beautiful community is. We continue to see the support and dedication the community has to helping one another and it truly is amazing.

As an essential service we are continuously sanitizing and cleaning our facility to ensure our dedicated staff stay healthy.

We wanted to give a couple reminders on our operations at 54 Ainslie St. S.

  • Our hours still remain Monday to Friday 12:00PM-4:30PM.
  • Hampers are designed so you only need to come once a week.
  • You do not need to provide any paperwork or identification. We ask your name and how many people are in your family.
  • We will place your hamper on the tables located outside of our front door. You can pick up your hamper from the table, this allows everyone to stay at a safe distance.
  • Tape has been placed on the sidewalk, use this as a guide to distance yourself.
  • If you are feeling unwell, have a compromised immune system or feel uncomfortable going out in public, you may have someone pick up a hamper on your behalf.
  • All programs remain suspended until further notice.
  • Mike’s Lunch is still operating but as a come-and-go lunch.

Our annual Spring Food & Fund Drive is still running, with one slight change, we have gone virtual!  With the current situation we are facing we are seeing an increase in demand at the CSHFB, making this Spring Food & Fund Drive that much more important! If you choose to donate food we ask that you drop the food off at your local grocery store. This allows us to limit the amount of people coming in to our building and limiting the contact we have with other people. If you prefer to donate through a monetary donation we except donations through Canada Helps. Canada Helps is an online platform that allows you to donate through the comfort of your own home. We also can accept monetary donations in the form of a cheque. Cheques can be made out to Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank and mailed to 54 Ainslie St. South, Cambridge ON. N1R3K3

Our volunteer program is still suspended at this time. However April 19-25th was National Volunteer Week and we did not forget about you. We weren’t able to celebrate our hardworking and dedicated volunteers like we normally do but we were thinking of you and we can’t wait for the day to see all of your smiling faces again! Without your outstanding commitment we would not be able to provide the programming that we do for the community!

For updates on the status of the CSHFB and the status of our programs, follow us on social media.

From everyone at the CSHFB we send our best wishes to you and those you love. Stay safe.

Wanted: Volunteers for our Board of Directors

[vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom”][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]As a registered charity, the Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank is governed by a voluntary Board of Directors, who provide governance, oversight, and vision for the organization. The board is made up of committed community members with a diverse set of skills and experiences who are inspired by our mission and our work, and are driven to grow the positive impact our organization makes in our community.

In addition to above, we are specifically seeking members one or more of the following skills, experience, and knowledge:

  • Lived experience of poverty and food insecurity
  • Fundraising or marketing experience, and/or connections to potential donors
  • Commercial real estate / Architecture / Construction and project management
  • Strategic or executive experience
  • Healthcare / government

We are looking to nominate board members for our Annual General Meeting in September.

Meetings are monthly (2 hours) with additional time needed for meeting preparation. Attendance at special events, joining a board sub-committee, and making a personally meaningful financial contribution to the organization are welcomed and encouraged.

Do you think you might be ready to step up and help us Feed Community? We encourage you to connect with our incoming board chair, Kristen Danson, at kristen[at]mitographics.com by August 22nd.

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Grow-a-Row, Give-a-Row

Grow a Row, Give a Row!

Do you have a garden and love growing food? Do you love to share that food?
This growing season, why not be part of a global movement and share that love of growing food by dedicating a row in your garden to donate to the Cambridge Self Help Food Bank?

FAQ

How does it work?
You have a garden plot. You are excited to grow food and happen to be growing food for yourself/your family and friends anyway. Plant an extra row or a few extra plants that you commit to giving away when they are ready! Easy as that!

What should I grow?
Anything you are excited about! Tomatoes, greens, root vegetables, cucumbers, melons… any fresh fruits and vegetables are welcome!

Should I clean the dirt off them first?
Yes, please!

Do I need to package them or do anything?
No! Please handle the produce how you would if you were going to eat it. No special packaging is required. We do not accept prepared or cooked foods from home kitchens. Please give them in their whole form!

When should I bring my produce?
Just like at a market stand, aiming to bring it as close to the harvest time as possible to maintain freshness is ideal.

Where do I bring the produce?
Bring it to the Cambridge Self Help Food Bank at 54 Ainslie Street any time during our open hours: Monday and Tuesday 12-4:30, Wednesday 9-4:30, Thursday 9-6:30 and Friday 9-4:30. We will weight it in and distribute it to participants, member agencies and programs. If you stick around, we can let you know how much it weighed too! If these times do not work, please contact Siobhan at 519-622-6550 X202 to arrange a pick-up!

Reflections On My First Holiday Season at the CSHFB

“If you think we are busy now, just wait until December!”

Our mitten tree, always filled with scarves, mittens, and hats made by caring community members.

This is the refrain I heard many times throughout my first few months at the Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank. While you can expect the holiday season to be a busy time for a food bank, and for many charities for that matter, I could tell that Christmas, and the whole holiday season, was a very special time at the CSHFB.

And what a time it was!

First it was the events.

The parades, with people all along the route handing over food and funds to our many volunteers who were rushing around to collect it all. The CP Holiday Train, with hundreds from our community cheering the incredible donation from CP, and from ACD Foods who brought a truck with 500 turkeys on it. The Forward and Trinity Community Table Christmas dinners, Hespeler Elves, the Deer Ridge toy drive, Stuff-a-Bus, the River City Concert, and on it went…

And it was the donations.

The Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank relies heavily on the generosity of the community, with more than three quarters of our operations fuelled by donations and fundraising. Whether it was a family coming by with bags of groceries, the small and large businesses, labour unions, congregations, and community groups doing toy and food drives, or community members and businesses making small and large financial donations. It all adds up and gets collected to fuel our work not only during the holidays, but all year long. The generosity of people in our community – our neighbours – is astounding.

Our sorting area overflowing with food donations from our generous community!

Then there was the distribution.

Most years we find a gymnasium or warehouse space where we can collect and distribute holiday food hampers and toys. This year the right space just didn’t materialize in time, so we decided to do it all at our 54 Ainslie Street location.

While the theme was cozy, our army of volunteers and dedicated staff ensured that it all went to plan. Over 450 families received holiday hampers and/or toys for children and teens over a two day period. The hampers were enough for a beautiful holiday meal, with thank to our many donors. And the toys were diverse and plentiful, enough to make sure that the families who registered would be well taken care of. So many of these families were sponsored by individuals, schools, businesses, families, churches – each stepping up to make sure that that one specific family would have a celebration to remember.

And most of all, it was the love.

Over and over I saw people wanting to share their love for their fellow community members. From the little girl who donated toys from her birthday party so that other kids could enjoy them, to the volunteers and donors who made sure that children from single-parent families could choose and wrap a gift for their parent, to the ever-full mitten tree, always loaded with handmade mittens, scarves, and hats, handmade with love and donated by community members. If you want to see people living the meaning of the season, you can find it here.

What a heartwarming note to find on a thank-you letter!

This is not to say that the entire experience was positive. Nestled beside the abundance of the season is the need; community members in need of warmth, clothing, shelter, food, and a sense of community and belonging. These are needs present every day in our community, but perhaps more obvious in this season. Charles Dickens wrote: “We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices.” One hundred and seventy-five years later, these words remain true.

I am so honoured to get to participate in the tradition of holiday support at the Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank. I’ve never been more grateful to be so busy as I have this season. To each of you who volunteered, made a donation, knitted a scarf, put a can of food or a new toy into a collection bin, dropped off bag after bag of groceries, or shared a kind word with another member of our community – thank you.

Thank you for ensuring abundance rejoices in our community.

Cameron Dearlove
Executive Director

 

To the Most Amazing Volunteers in Cambridge and North Dumfries

I am now six months into my role here at the Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank, and I can’t express how amazed I am at the dedication, compassion, and care provided by our hundreds upon hundreds of volunteers. At a recent community forum, I was asked how long the Food Bank would last without volunteers. My answer of “about eight minutes” may have sounded like hyperbole, but it really wasn’t; we couldn’t do a fraction of what we do in our community were it not for the incredible dedication and generosity of our volunteers.

Last year our Co-op Members and Community Volunteers logged over 26,000 hours of volunteer time. Sometimes it is difficult to comprehend such a large number, but if we break it down, I know that each one of those hours represents a donation not only of time, but of hospitality, care, and compassion to a neighbour and fellow member of our community. What an incredible gift you provide day in and day out!

I know that not every day is easy, and that not every interaction provides you with the thanks you so richly deserve. But I know from what I see, and from what I hear and read from people we serve, that your efforts are deeply appreciated. You hold a space for everyone in our community to be served respectfully, kindly, and free of judgement. Please know that your contributions are never lost on all of us here.

As we head into this holiday season, I’m reminded of a line from A Christmas Carol when Scrooge is approached about a donation towards the less fortunate: “We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices.” At the Food Bank this holiday season – and all seasons – we see people struggling through many challenges. We are so fortunate that so many in our community step forward to share their abundance – and this is no more true than the abundance of time and caring service shared by our volunteers.

I wish you all a happy and joyous holiday season, and a new year filled with blessings.

With gratitude for all you do,

Cameron Dearlove
Executive Director