Our Programs

Supports for Food Security

The Community Pantry
(Emergency Food Support)

When people think about food banks, they most often think about our Community Pantry support, often called an “emergency food hamper.” When a resident of Cambridge or North Dumfries is in immediate need of food, we can provide them with 3 days’ worth of food up to 8 times per year. The quantity of the Food Basket depends on the number of people in the household, and can include a mix of canned, boxed, fresh, and frozen foods. Baby food, formula, and diapers are also offered to households with an infant, when available.

People who come in for a Food Basket are often surprised by the welcoming and individualized experience. Helpful volunteers will walk you through our Community Pantry room and help you to select the items that work best for you and your family. When possible, we also help to adapt the selection for special diets, such as people who are vegetarian, have a food allergy, or have religious dietary restrictions.

Food Baskets can be picked up at our Ainslie Street or off-site locations during our opening hours. Please bring a piece of ID and your income information for your first visit. We also ask that you bring along some reusable shopping bags to carry your items out.

This support is partially funded through the Region of Waterloo, The United Way Waterloo Region Communities, and by our generous individual, group, and corporate donors.

For more information about The Community Pantry, you can speak with Sarah at extension 100. You can also download the Emergency Food and Community Meal listing created by the Region of Waterloo.

Did you know:

In 2017, 14,215 Food Baskets were delivered to households in Cambridge. 14 Food Baskets were distributed in North Dumfries in 2017, down from 36 in 2016.

36% of food assistance program recipients in Cambridge and North Dumfries are under the age of 18.

The Food Co-operative

The Co-operative Program has been an integral part of the Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank (CSHFB) for more than 30 years, providing access to food to low-income individuals and families since before the emergency food hamper program began. A leader in co-operative food assistance, this unique support gives members the choice to contribute to their long-term food security, easing the struggle to feed themselves and their families.

Co-op members can shop for healthy food at the Food Bank Co-op or at our off-site locations once every two weeks, to help stretch their grocery budgets. A Co-op food pickup is similar to a food hamper pickup, though with a different variety of foods.


We use the word “member” intentionally, as each member contributes towards the Food Co-operative. Members contribute $10 per month, and are also asked to volunteer at least four hours each month – either giving back to the Food Co-operative, or to your community. Together with the Co-op Coordinator, the members stock the shelves, break down bulk foods, clean the Co-op, and serve their fellow members. Now that’s co-operative!

The co-op’s success is a direct result of the members themselves. In fact, the program could not run without them. Members contribute thousands of hours of volunteer work each month at the Food Bank and in the community to support the Food Bank, and help make Cambridge and surrounding area a better place to live.


A key element of the CSHFB co-op is its Mentor Program that provides leadership training for members who wish to take a more active role at the Food Bank. The Co-op runs workshops covering a range of topics from customer service to cultural diversity. When the co-op saw an influx of Syrian refugees, the team brought in a speaker to discuss their unique cultural needs and explain the Syrian crisis and Canada’s response.

The Mentor Program also helps volunteers develop the skills needed for job readiness. While not everyone is looking for work, the volunteer positions at the Food Bank show members that they have something worthwhile to contribute by using their talents and abilities. Many co-op members have even moved on to paid work. For example, one of the Food Bank’s peer health workers and Mike’s Lunch Basket cook first came to the CSHFB as a co-op member. After volunteering with the Mentor Program, she realized she had both the desire and ability to help others in need.

This support is partially funded through The United Way Waterloo Region Communities, by the members’ fees, and by your generous donations.

To learn more about the Food Co-operative, contact Laura at extension 114. You can also click here to download the Emergency Food and Community Meal listing created by the Region of Waterloo.

Did you know:

In addition to over 14,000 emergency food hampers distributed in Cambridge and North Dumfries last year, 9855 Food Co-operative pickups were made in Cambridge and 264 were made in North Dumfries. 870 different families were members of the Food Co-operative in Cambridge and North Dumfries in 2017.

Mike’s Lunch Baskett

Every Saturday we host a community meal at the Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank. On an average Saturday, we welcome between 65 and 100 guests to come and enjoy a hot and nutritious meal. Volunteers take turns cooking up lunch for community members.

Lunch is available every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at our Ainslie Street location.

This support is funded through the generosity of our individual, group, and corporate donors.

To learn more about Mike’s Lunch Basket, contact Dianne at extension 205. You can also click here to download the Emergency Food and Community Meal listing created by the Region of Waterloo.

Did you know:

In 2017, the Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank and our volunteers served 3836 meals through Mike’s Lunch Basket.

Community Food Partners

In addition to the food security programs we deliver out of our main location and off-site locations, we also provide food to 21 community groups and organizations in Cambridge and North Dumfries. These community partners are an important part of the network fighting food insecurity in our community. We see it as a privilege to support these groups to meet the hunger need in our community, and continuously strive to better support their efforts.

This support is funded through the generosity of our individual, group, and corporate donors.

To learn more about our Community Food Partnerships, or to inquire about becoming partners, contact Siobhan at extension 202

Did you know:

The Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank provided 107,717 pounds of fresh and non-perishable food to our Community Food Partners in 2017. Since 2015, we have provided almost 400,000 pounds of food to our Community Food Partners!

Community Nutrition Worker

Stay tuned for more information.

Supports for People & Families

Grandparent’s Group

The Grandparents’ Program is for grandparents or other kin families who have assumed the responsibility of raising an immediate family member. This group provides an opportunity for members to share information, practical tips for daily living, and support and encouragement related to what may be an unexpected parenting role.

The group meets monthly and includes dinner, childcare, activities, and peer to peer support for adults.

This support is funded through the generosity of our individual, group, and corporate donors.

To learn more about Grandparent’s Group, contact Dianne at extension 205.

Street Outreach

The Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank is fortunate to employ two Street Outreach Workers who serve the Cambridge community. Street Outreach Workers build relationships with people who live, work, or socialize on the street. This work is relationship-based and involves walking with people as they navigate systems, providing referrals to resources, and practical support that assists people in meeting their basic needs.

This support is funded by the Region of Waterloo, the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network with support from The Working Centre, and from the generosity of our donors.

Clothing Room

Our Clothing Room provides free gently used clothing for the whole family. The Clothing Room is staffed by a team of dedicated volunteers. Individuals may access the Clothing Room once per week, taking up to five items of clothing per family member.

This support is made possible through community clothing donations and the dedication of our volunteers.

Spiritual Care

The Spiritual Care Program is one of the unique supports that makes us “more than a food bank.”  Our commitment to supporting those in need calls us to support families and individuals in all aspects of their lives.

In response to often distressing realities of living in poverty, the Spiritual Care Provider will offer personal support, as well as hosting events including grief support groups, visiting people in hospital, and a variety of workshops.

This program encourages the inclusion of all cultural and faith groups that come to the Food Bank. One of the big issues faced by people living in poverty and challenging times is that of hopelessness and feelings of loneliness.  It is in those places that the Spiritual Care Provider can assist with occasions of offering encouragement and support leading to individuals finding hope.

This support is funded through the generosity of our individual, group, and corporate donors.

To connect with the Spiritual Care Coordinator, please contact June at extension 212.

Did you know:

In Canada, social isolation and loneliness are more of a factor of an early death than obesity.

Peer Program

The Peer Program Worker aims to increase individual capacity by providing Peer Workers and program participants with knowledge and skills around healthy eating and food skills, and to increase the overall health of caregivers and their children.

The Peer Worker also works to prevent and reduce social isolation within a community, through group programs focused on healthy eating and child and family health.

The Peer Worker offers weekly workshops on a variety of topics ranging from healthy relationships, parenting, and social activities.

This program is funded by the Region of Waterloo Public Health department, and through the generosity of our individual, group, and corporate donors.

To learn more about this support, contact Carole at extension 204.

Vision, Energy Support, and Other Programs

Onesite Vision

In partnership with Lenscrafters, individuals without eye care coverage can receive a referral letter for free glasses or an eye care exam.

Members who require this service can speak to the Food Co-operative staff to learn more at extension 114.

This support is funded by Lenscrafters.

The Ontario Energy Support Program

The OESP can reduce the cost of your household electricity by applying a monthly credit directly to your bill. The credit amount will depend on how many people live in your home, and your combined household income. We can support you to complete your application to this program.

This support is funded by the Ontario Energy Support Program.

To learn more about the supports described above, contact Laura at extension 114.

The Wellness Hub

At our main location at 54 Ainslie Street South, we provide a range of supports for our community. The supports we provide are enriched and complemented by the services and resources available through our in-house partners.

These in-house partners, together with our work, form The Wellness Hub: community organizations working collaboratively to better serve our community. Get to know some of our Wellness Hub partners, and how they can be of service.

Family Counselling Centre of Cambridge and North Dumfries

Organization Website: www.fcccnd.com

Schedule at the CSHFB: Wednesdays, 11:00-3:00 (other times may be available)

Programs, services, and supports offered at the CSHFB: Individual, couples, and family counselling

How to get in touch: Contact Cheryl at (519) 621-5090 ext. 220

SHORE Centre

Organization Website: www.shorecentre.ca

Schedule at the CSHFB: Mondays from 12pm to 4:30pm

Programs, services, and supports offered at the CSHFB: Free counselling for anyone facing an unplanned pregnancy, referrals for abortion, adoption, and parenting supports. Information and education for birth control and family planning. Free pregnancy tests, pre-natal vitamins, and condoms.

How to get in touch: Email Maggie Hamel-Smith Grassby at youtheducation@shorecentre.ca

Waterloo Region Community Legal Services

Organization Website:  www.wrsls.ca

Schedule at the CSHFB: Fridays 9-1 by appointment only

Programs, services, and supports offered at the CSHFB:  Appointments for ODSP/OW issues and landlord-tenant issues

How to get in touch: Please contact the main office at (519) 743-0254 to arrange an appointment.

House of Friendship – Family Outreach

Organization Website: www.houseoffriendship.org / www.familyoutreach.ca

Schedule at the CSHFB: Wednesdays & Thursdays

Programs, services, and supports offered at the CSHFB: Connections to basic needs resources for families with children 17 and under.

How to get in touch: Call Ash M., Family Outreach Worker. 519.742.8327 x 253

Community Support Connections – Meals on Wheels and More

Organization Website: communitysupportconnections.org

Schedule at the CSHFB: Wednesdays from 2 – 4:30 p.m.

Programs, services, and supports offered at the CSHFB: Transportation, Meals On Wheels, Lawn/Yard/Snow removal care, Exercise classes (SMART) Friendly Visiting Program, Community Dining, Homemaking services.

Note: Programs are based on approval. Most programs require a fee. CSCMOW will work off of a sliding scale (only for billable services, upon approval) and would require an address client resides at.

How to get in touch: Irene Arafat at (519) 772-8787


Sanguen Health Centre is a health care agency that provides testing and treatment for hepatitis C, social supports for people who take drugs, and harm reduction education and supplies (including overdose prevention training and naloxone kits).

Organization Website: sanguen.com

Schedule at the CSHFB:

  • Nurse on Tuesdays 1:30-4 p.m., drop-ins welcome
  • Support worker on most Tuesdays with the nurse, drop-ins welcome but not always available
  • Physician one Friday monthly from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., by appointment only
  • Sanguen Outreach Van, Tuesdays at 4:00 p.m.
  • Peer Mentor, Tuesday to Thursday from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Programs, services, and supports offered at the CSHFB:

Sanguen is a hepatitis C clinic focusing on caring for those who are at risk, diagnosed or cured from hepatitis C. We work through a harm reduction lens.

  • The nurse, Allaina (also known as Al) is available to offer testing for hepatitis C and some other sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections. She is the first contact for anyone who is diagnosed with hepatitis C and is referred to Sanguen. She arranges follow-up appointments and tests. Allaina is available to offer vein care and some wound/abscess care.
  • Steingart meets with patients after they have met with the nurse to discuss treatment for hepatitis C. He follows patients post-treatment as well.
  • Our support worker, Pete, provides support, socio-emotional as a counsellor or practical as a Social Worker to any individual diagnosed, at risk, or post Hepatitis C Treatment. Pete combines outreach perspective with harm reduction values to be flexible and serve the client in a method that meets clients where they are at.
  • We also have our Community Health Van that stops by around 4pm each Tuesday for approximately an hour. We offer snacks, canned goods, clothing, hygiene products, and harm reduction supplies including naloxone kits and training. We also have sharps containers and will take back full containers as well. Our harm reduction supplies are always in stock. Unfortunately, all other supplies are by donation only, and vary week to week.
  • Paul is our Peer Outreach Worker who is available for drop-in counselling, harm reduction supplies, and referral to other resources.

How to get in touch: For appointments or other healthcare related questions, contact Al’s mobile at 226-808-2556.


Organization: ACCKWA

Organization Website: www.acckwa.com

Schedule at the CSHFB: Monday-Friday 12:30pm-4:30pm

Programs / services / supports offered at the CSHFB: SafePoint Needle Syringe Program, Safe disposal and returns, HIV support

Contact person at the CSHFB Harm Reduction Coordinator outreach@acckwa.com

Contact person for organizational questions Coordinator of Volunteers and Peer Engagement volunteer@acckwa.com