As part of the Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest festivities, residents can help support families in need by donating to the Onkel Hans Food Drive.
Set to end on October 12, this food drive has supported over 34,000 people in the community by providing more than 67,000 meals in 2019.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many, The Food Bank of Waterloo Region has adjusted its operations to ensure no one is left without a meal.
Speaking with 570 NEWS, CEO of the Waterloo Region Food Bank Wendi Campbell said the organization has been preparing for an anticipated increase in demand in the coming months. With government assistance programs shifting and changing, Campbell said the foodbank is looking to strengthen its inventory and resources to support the region's network as need potentially grows.
Campbell said donations of non-perishable items continue to be needed, as the organization looks for a wide variety of all food groups to help fill gaps in inventory. The Food Bank CEO also mentioned that financial donations can be made online, and that those funds help the region's food bank maintain current levels of service.
"Financial donations help us keep our vehicles on the road, our coolers and freezers operating - it supports the expansion and development of innovative solutions, and to purchase bulk food items to fill gaps in our inventory..." said Campbell. "All of these things are so important, especially due to the decline in community food donations as a result of COVID. Financial donations are going to help us create that balance to ensure what is being distributed out in the community (...) has a really great variety and quality of food."
Last Friday, the Prime Minister announced additional support for food banks and local food organizations, citing challenges in delivering services to Canadians in need - including securing volunteers and increasing public health and safety measures. The Federal government announced an additional $100 million investment through the Emergency Food Security Fund, to be provided to national and regional organizations.
Trudeau said that Canada is entering a critical point in the pandemic, and that this investment will help to improve access to food supply for vulnerable Canadians across the country, who are facing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Funds are to be used to purchase and distribute food and other necessities, while also being provided to hire workers where volunteers are not available. He also said the funds are intended to help food banks with protective equipment costs in ensuring safety for workers, volunteers and visitors at food banks and local food organizations.
"We've been working really closely with Food Banks Canada throughout the pandemic - we're thrilled with the support from the Federal government (...) we've been able to use those dollars locally to support our network and the capacity of our programs throughout Waterloo Region, to help them put into place the things they need to continue delivering excellent service to those in need in our community."
Despite no Oktoberfest Thanksgiving Day parade this year, the 2020 festival is still supporting the food bank by donating a portion of the proceeds generated from Oktoberfest-in-a-Box kits and the Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest Live event.
If you typically make your donation during the parade, you are encouraged to donate online directly at The Food Bank of Waterloo Region website - or at any local grocery store.