For many community members, the Neighbourhood Food Program distributes more than just food.
They provide connection, a sense of belonging, and lots of smiles.
“One participant came up to me recently,” shares Rudi, the Neighbourhood Food Supervisor, “and told me ‘the reason we still come here is for the smiles’.”
Despite the safety restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rudi and his team still find ways to connect meaningfully and respectfully with participants who are struggling to feed their families during this challenging time. They engage them in conversations and stay in good spirits while distributing food.
And connection at the Neighbourhood Food Program is a two-way street. Rudi shares that participants across the community frequently convey their gratitude and crack jokes to cheer up staff members. For some, this is their only form of social interaction outside their homes.
One elderly gentleman shared that he enjoys interacting with others at the program so much, he declined food deliveries to his doorstep. Instead, he insisted: “I want to be here.”
“Everyone is encouraging, supportive, and grateful,” says Rudi. “It’s been a challenging time and our team has been incredibly resilient.”
In the future, Rudi hopes to continue building connection, once the restrictions of COVID-19 are over. “We would love to have people come inside, browse our selection, and choose what they want. We don’t want people to rush. We want to offer conversations over coffee or tea.”
For Rudi, the Neighbourhood Food Program also distribute more than just food.
They provide a chance to build community – with lots of smiles.
Neighbourhood Food Programs operate at seven locations across the community for those struggling to feed themselves or their families. Information about each program is listed below:
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