When Ron Caudle was approached by staff at The Food Bank of Waterloo Region, he wasn't sure how he could help.
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The president of Caudle's Catch Seafood — which has been in the region for 32 years and is a popular vendor at the St. Jacobs Farmers' Market — said he thought the food bank was mainly interested in canned goods and peanut butter.
"How does Caudle's fit in with that? Maybe I can give some canned fish," he said.
He took a tour of the food bank facility and said he was surprised to see large freezer and cooler areas to accommodate more than the traditional non-perishable items.
As he looked around he started to think, "Maybe we can do something."
Listen to the whole interview with Ron Caudle:
Lack of proteins
Food bank executive director Wendi Campbell said they have started to see requests for different kinds of food from the people and various community agencies they help.
"Last year, one of the gaps we were noticing was in the protein section and we also knew that there was an increasing amount of requests for culturally specific foods. Specifically, halal and fish is one of the things that fills both of those categories," she said.
Not only is the partnership with Caudle's meeting protein needs, but Campbell said it's also popular.
She said 17,000 lbs of fish have been added to the food bank's inventory since May. As soon as it comes in, it's picked up by food bank customers.
Tilapia is among the most popular frozen fish types, which fits in with the diets of many new Canadians and people who just want to eat healthy, Caudle said.
'You should be giving back'
Caudle — who sells the fish to the food bank at cost, without making a profit — said they enjoy giving back to the community, and have been part of fundraisers for Grand River Hospital and the Rotary Club's LobsterFest in the past.
"My mom and dad always taught me to give back. It's kind of selfishly rewarding to give back. Our employees like it. We're trying to teach our kids the same thing and if you're successful in your community, you should be giving back for your staff and for your customers," he said.
He added it's also nice to see people enjoying fish — people who might not have access to it if it wasn't for the food bank.
"It's kind of different grounds for [the food bank] and they're excited and the people who are coming to the food bank are excited," he said.
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