About / Our History

The Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank offers food and support to people and community groups in need within Cambridge and North Dumfries.

We encourage self-reliance through programs and services.

Our Vision: Every person will have access to healthy food and opportunities for growth.

Our Values Statement: We respect all people equally.

We strive to:

  • Encourage a sense of community
  • Extend a caring hand
  • Develop each person’s unique strengths and life skills

We conduct ourselves to:

  • Actively seek community partnerships
  • Use our resources efficiently
  • Honour everyone’s right to confidentiality

History & Hunger


The Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank first opened its doors in 1985 in response to a severe economic recession. At the time, the only available help for Cambridge residents was church based programs and soup kitchens.

The establishment of the Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank was inspirited by three very socially conscious men living in high density neighbourhoods.  Recognizing the need for food assistance, they began by going to the Saturday market and collecting unsold fruits and vegetables. Loading up the trunks of their cars, they then returned to their neighbourhoods for distribution.

The organization was founded by members of social services, community, religious organizations, a lawyer, and several community members. This group of people wanted to change the way people living below the poverty line were viewed, and allow them to access food when needed.

The Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank serves the City of Cambridge and Township of North Dumfries, which together have a population of approximately 145,000. Over 1,600 individuals and families are helped each month, and we distribute food to 26 community organizations.

The Food Bank employs twelve full-time and ten part-time staff; however volunteers are the key of our success. Our volunteers consist of adults, students, community assigned workers, and individuals on work placements. Over 1,000 volunteers contribute hours to our organization every year.

This Food Bank believes that a person’s dignity and self-respect are paramount and that everyone has something valuable to contribute. We work to overcome the stigma of utilizing a food bank. Our goal is to have everyone walking out feeling better than when they came in.

Our mission is to offer additional food products and assistance to residents in need. We work to foster self-reliance by offering educational opportunities, job training, and one-on-one emotional support.

We are dedicated not only to feeding people in our community, but also to helping to build our community.

The Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank is a proud Living Wage employer at the “Champion” level. We believe that as an organization supporting people experiencing poverty, we must lead by example and ensure that anyone employed by our organization earns a living wage.

The Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank is a member of the Ontario Association of Food Banks and Food Banks Canada. We are also an integral part of the Waterloo Region Community Food Assistance Network.

Land Acknowledgement

The Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank, and the community we serve, is situated on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishnaabe and Haudenosaunee peoples. Today, this land is home to Indigenous people from across Turtle Island.

The Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank is on Dish With One Spoon territory. In living, working and gathering on this land, we have a responsibility to honour the Dish With One Spoon Wampum, an agreement made long ago between the Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee. It is our responsibility to peacefully share what we have with our community, to take only what we need, and to keep the land and water clean for future generations.

We recognize the past and current contexts of colonialism so that we may build stronger relationships, aware of the history and treaties we are all party to.

The Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank, and the community that we serve, is located on the Haldimand Tract, which on October 25, 1784, after the American Revolutionary War of Independence, was given to the Six Nations of the Grand River by the British as compensation for their role in the war and for the loss of their traditional lands in upstate New York. Of the 950,000 acres given to the Haudenosaunee (six miles on either side of the Grand River, all the way along its length), only 46,000 acres (less than 5 per cent) remains Six Nations land.

We recognize that Indigenous people are disproportionately affected by food insecurity. Approximately 33 percent of urban Indigenous households are food insecure – which means they don’t always have access to healthy and affordable food. This inequality is a result of colonial laws in Canada which: forced communities away from their traditional homes and sources of food; intentionally malnourished Indigenous children; intentionally make it difficult for Indigenous communities to be self-sufficient; and allow Indigenous communities, including their food and water sources, to be polluted by industry.

We acknowledge that social services have played an active role in colonization, and the attempted cultural genocide of Indigenous people. The Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank is committed to taking part in reconciliation in a meaningful way.


Learn about our staff and why they are passionate about their work:


Spiritual Care

#WhyCSHFB: “Have you ever felt that all hope in your life has disappeared or have you stood on the margins of life?” I have. Fortunately, my voice has always been heard and people have responded. As I enter the Food Bank each morning I hope I can be one of the people that hears that quiet voice in the wilderness, “someone please help.”

519-622-6550 Ext. 212


Program Coordinator

#WhyCSHFB: I feel it is a privilege to walk alongside people in our community; the food bank allows me to do so without requiring anything in return of the people we serve. I was fortunate to meet people along my journey that changed the trajectory of my life and my work here allows me to honour them in a way that is meaningful.

519-622-6550 Ext. 205



#WhyCSHFB: I am here to ensure that all donations are picked up and delivered on time with a smile

519-622-6550 Ext. 209



#WhyCSHFB: When I come up the stairs each day and I read the writing on the wall at the top of the stairs I am always reminded of why I keep coming back. For me that pretty much captures my purpose in life.
(The writing says: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” – Matthew 25:35-36)

519-622-6550 Ext. 119


Peer Worker



Community Connections Coordinator

#WhyCSHFB: As one of the coordinators of the co-op program at CSHFB I provide support for individuals and families that offers hope, dignity, respect and opportunity in their lives while providing a way to stretch their food budget. I have the privilege every day of working for an organization that fills my soul.

519-622-6550 Ext. 114


Fund Development & Communications Coordinator

#WhyCSHFB: In my role as Fund Development and Communications Coordinator, I hear so many amazing stories from the staff and participants here at the Food Bank. I work to tell those stories as best I can and create opportunities for everyone to share their voice. I want to share our story with the community and build up our resources to ensure we can continue to do the amazing work that happens here every day.

519-622-6550 Ext. 117

Cameron Dearlove

Executive Director

#WhyCSHFB: I help to organize, enable, and support my team so that we can build a stronger, more interconnected community. Together, we walk with people hoping to make each day a little better.

519-622-6550 Ext. 103


Volunteer Services

#WhyCSHFB: Because I believe in volunteerism! I see the rewards to both our organization and the individuals who donate their time. I believe in our programs and services and want the staff to have support in their areas so they can run efficiently. Lastly, I know we couldn’t do this without our volunteers and I am thankful we have such a loyal group who work alongside us every day!

519-622-6550 Ext. 106


Administrative and Facilities Assistant

#WhyCSHFB: I am here to ensure that the Emergency Room is clean, full, and as inviting as possible. I do this by providing our magnificent volunteers with the tools and support they require to send our participants on their way with enough food to fill their bellies and, hopefully, a more optimistic outlook.

519-622-6550 Ext. 101


Distribution Centre Assistant

519-622-6550 Ext. 105


Community Nutrition Coordinator

#WhyCSHFB: Community service is my passion and nutrition is my strength. I am thankful that my job here at CSHFB allows me to combine both. I am here to spread the awareness about better health for everyone by adopting a healthy lifestyle. As Hippocrates' famous quote says, ``Let food be thy medicine``. Together, let us make the world a better place, one bite at a time.

519-622-6550 Ext. 220


Street Outreach Worker

#WhyCSHFB: As a Street Outreach worker I strive to build supportive relationships by meeting folks where they’re at; free of stigma and judgment. Through compassion, understanding and the inherit belief that every individual has value, I have been given the opportunity to help provide support to those I walk alongside. I believe sincerity and empathy go a long way and I’m humbled by the resilience and strength of the people I meet.

519-622-6550 Ext. 207


Food Procurement and Local Food Development Manager

519-622-6550 Ext. 202


Food Procurement and Local Food Development Assistant


Co-op Assistant


Fund Development and Relationship Coordinator

As the Fund Development and Relationship Coordinator, my role is to help people and businesses in Cambridge and North Dumfries have a positive, long-term, impact in our community. My goal is to ensure there is sufficient funding to meet the community’s needs now and in the future, and to recognize the generosity that exists in the Cambridge community. I look forward to connecting with you to find out how we can work together to #FeedCommunity!

519-622-6550 Ext. 118



519-622-6550 x 100


Co-op Coordinator

#WhyCSHFB: In my role as the Co-op Coordinator, I have the opportunity to help individuals and families stretch their food budgets. I love connecting with the members and working alongside the amazing Volunteers and Mentors. I am grateful to be able to say that I work at CSHFB with very compassionate, dedicated staff who truly care about the people in our community.

519-622-6550 x 114


Community Meal Coordinator

#WhyCSHFB: As a Community Meal Coordinator for the Mike's Lunch program, I plan and prepare nutritious food that accommodates dietary needs to increase inclusivity. I am passionate about contributing to a healthy and inclusive community where love dignity and respect is nourished. Every Saturday, I have the privilege to interact and build rapport with my peers experiencing life’s challenges. This experience has strengthened my ability to establish a bridge with our guests and volunteers while providing listening support to empower and give encouragement when needed. At Mike’s Lunch, we have a phenomenal team of volunteers who share the CSHFB’s values of respecting our guest equally.



The Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank is an incorporated not-for-profit charitable organization, governed by a volunteer board of directors. We are so thankful to the committed volunteer directors and all of the time and energy they contribute towards helping our organization best serve our community.

If you are interested in joining our board of directors or one of our volunteer committees, please contact Tara at tcooper@cambridgefoodbank.on.ca.

2017-18 Board of Directors

Executive Committee

Jeff Darroch – Chair
Jen Germann Wright – Vice Chair
Kristen Danson – Vice Chair
Bob Domjan – Treasurer


Heather Johnson
Brian Hornick
Bill Todd
Jen Loker
Kristen Danson
Eileen Mathewson
Yasmine Mohamed
Kevin Moule
Scott Hamilton
Katherine Hughes
Nancy Mason

Annual Report 

Click here to view the 2017/18 Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank Annual Report

Click here to view the 2017/2018 Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank Audited Financial Statements

Work With Us

Want to find out more about the Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank and what it’s like to work here? Why not give volunteering a try and get to know us!