Kitchener-Waterloo·Sounds of the Season

'We all fall': Vittoria Trinchi on why she wants you to support the food bank

Nearly a decade ago, Vittoria Trinchi was a teen mom who needed help. She reached out to The Food Bank of Waterloo Region and says they helped her without judgement. Now, she wants to encourage others to give to the food bank.

Food bank focused on getting her help without judgement, Trinchi says

Vittoria Trinchi is encouraging people to donate to The Food Bank of Waterloo Region because the agency helped her as a teen mom put food on the table for her children. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

All month long, CBC Kitchener-Waterloo is raising food and funds for The Food Bank of Waterloo Region. Join our live program Dec. 7 at TheMuseum. 

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Vittoria Trinchi remembers quite vividly what it was like to be 16 with a child and another on the way.

"It was definitely nerve wracking. You want to do the best that you can and you already have a million people judging you … even your family's judging you at this point and it's just like you're trying to do everything possible to kind of prove yourself," she said in an interview with CBC Kitchener-Waterloo.

With her anxiety rising and resources depleting, she was at an "all-time high for stress" when she called The Food Bank of Waterloo Region for help.

"That person on the phone that assisted with the preliminary intake, they were focused on one thing and that was getting me the help that I needed without judgment and that was really comfortable to me, moving forward without the judgment aspect," she said.

She recalls receiving an emergency food hamper that helped her get through that rough patch.

Food bank offered stability

Then a year and a bit later, with two children, Trinchi had to ask for help again. This time, it was closer to Christmas.

The hamper she received that time included everyday items, holiday specific foods and there were even some gifts for her two children.

She had been able to purchase a few gifts for her children, but she admits it wasn't a lot. The added gifts meant her children experienced a Christmas similar to their peers.

"It was nice to have that comparable, normal Christmas aspect for my children," she said.

She said her children were young enough, they didn't realize she was struggling.

"They were babies. They don't remember anything. They remember mom cooking soup," she said. "They don't actually realize that was one box of Hamburger Helper and the last little bit of ground beef in my freezer."

She says the food bank allowed her to get stability, and she was able to grow from the experience and says now, she can instill that strength in her two children.

Volunteers sort through items donated by the public in the warehouse of The Food Bank of Waterloo Region. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Quarter of food bank recipients are children

The Food Bank of Waterloo Region says there's no typical recipient and there's no one reason people come to the food bank.

Their numbers show in 2017, a quarter of people served by the food bank were children aged 11 and under. The next highest group was people aged 18 to 30: that makes up 22 per cent of people who receive food assistance.

While just over half, 51 per cent, are individuals, single-parent families make up 19 per cent of recipients, followed closely by two-parent families at 17 per cent.

The Food Bank of Waterloo Region and the Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank are at the centre of the Community Food Assistance Network and they work together to source fresh, frozen and non-perishable food.

The system includes more than 100 community agencies and food programs. Those programs and agency partners offer help through meals and emergency hampers: 215 food hampers were given out daily in 2017.

'We all fall'

Nearly a decade later, Trinchi is doing well financially. She's looking forward to this Christmas and she wants people to know just how much the food bank helped her.

"We all fall," she said.

"I think people who are kind of down and out on their luck are already feeling the judgment and the hardship of being not as stable and not as strong as people who do have sound jobs and great cars and a great place to lay their head and all the newest technology. It gets depressing," she added.

"People really need to see food as a necessity, but it's also a costly necessity for some people. It is a factor that everybody needs and that people shouldn't be judged if they need it."

She said giving what people can to the food bank is an easy way to make a difference for many different people, including neighbours and friends.

"It's a really easy way for the community to give back to the locals in the community," she said.

"If we look at each one of us as an individual in the community, we all have the power to strengthen the community and if each one of us is strong, then our community is strong. So I think the food bank is an absolutely great, local charity."

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