Kitchener-Waterloo

1M meals raised — double the goal — during summer campaign for The Food Bank of Waterloo Region

The Food Bank of Waterloo Region raised double what it was hoping to achieve during its annual summer campaign. The food bank says it raised over 1 million meals.

Food bank says its anticipating a 30 per cent increase in need going forward

The Food Bank of Waterloo Region doubled the number of meals it was hoping to raise during it's annual summer campaign. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

The Food Bank of Waterloo Region has raised double what it was hoping to achieve during its annual summer campaign.

During this year's Full Bellies Happy Hearts campaign, the organization was hoping to raise 500,000 meals to help families and individuals in the community, especially those impacted by COVID-19.

But since the campaign kicked off in June, the food bank said it raised more than a million meals.

Wendi Campbell, CEO of The Food Bank of Waterloo Region, said she thinks the campaign's success is due to a heightened awareness that COVID-19 has had a significant effect on most the vulnerable in our community.

"The support and the response to this campaign is a testament to this amazing, generous community that we live and work in," she said in an interview.

The success of the campaign also will also help with ongoing meal programs, emergency food hampers, as well as shelter and residential programs.

Fall could see increased demand

The food bank says more than 34,500 people have struggled to put food on the table during the pandemic.

"There is so many unknowns" about the fall, Campbell said. She pointed out it's unclear if there will be a second wave and if there is, what the fallout will mean for the economy, local individuals and what government supports will be available.

"What we do know, and what we're planning for is that there will be an increase in need for food assistance and we are planning for potentially a 30 per cent increase in food assistance as all of this continues to unfold," Campbell said.

She said that number of 30 per cent is their best estimate based on spikes seen in previous recessions, the closest comparator to what the need might be in a pandemic.

"For a minute it's overwhelming," Campbell said. "But again, knowing how much work we've already done, and how much support we've already received, we know that with really careful planning, and the continued support of the community and all of our partners, it's manageable. It's very manageable."

Campbell says the food bank is planning for some fall donation campaigns.

"Every little bit's going to help," she said.

Campbell adds the food bank will need to work together with the community, partners and other food programs "to make sure that we have all of the gaps in our inventory filled, that we have the resources that we need so that if there is a spike in usage, we are prepared and ready for that spike."

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