In February 2012, Central’s session voted to adopt the Cambridge Self Help Food Bank as its primary local mission.
The Cambridge Self Help Food Bank is unique among food banks in that it truly is far more than just a food bank. It provides food; but, it also provides so much more. Co-op members help support the food bank, volunteering a few hours a month and paying a small membership. In return, they receive food twice a month and the receive access to a wide range of other services and support programs.
There are infant nutrition programs, education programs, peer support and spiritual care programs. The Cambridge Self Help Food bank nurishes bodies; but it also teaches work skills and life skills. The Food Bank isn’t just a place to get emergency food. It’s a place where members find a sense of worth and belonging. The Food Bank is a valuable member of our community; but, it truly belongs to its members and it is a place where they can truly find pride of accomplishment.
As it’s motto says, it is more than just a food bank.
In their own words:
“The Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank first opened its doors in 1985; members of social services, community and religious organizations, a lawyer and several community members founded the organization. The Food Bank serves the City of Cambridge and Township of North Dumfries, which together has a population of approximately 130,000. Over 1600 families are helped each month, and 32 community organizations are provided with food.
The Food Bank employs twelve full time staff, but volunteers are the key of our success. Our volunteers consist of adults, students, community assigned workers, co-op students and individuals on work placements.
We work to dispel the societal attitude that people who access food banks are not good enough and are less than everyone else. Our goal is to have everyone walking out feeling better than when they came in. Our mission is to offer additional food products and assistance to residents in need. We work to foster self-reliance by offering educational opportunities, job training and one-on-one emotional support.
CSHFB is dedicated to feeding the hungry“
Central’s mission at the Food Bank includes “Mike’s Lunch Baskett”.
Mike Baskett was an outreach worker at the Food Bank. He dealt with people caught in very trying circumstances on a daily basis and he saw the struggles they fought through. He was a remarkable individual. He had wrestled with his own demons and won. Having done so, he dedicated his life to helping others in need. Before his work at the food bank, he volunteered with ACCKWA. He saw and knew the struggles of life on the street and he was determined to make a difference.
One Friday evening, after a long day on the street helping others, he came back into the office with a mission. Street people struggle each day to survive. Throughout the week, they could find meals at such places as Trinity Table; but, there was no place to go on the weekends. His plan was to host a meal at the Food Bank on Saturday mornings to try to fill the gap. He gave voice to his dream and spoke with passion convincing the staff of the need for such a program. The next morning Mike, at the age of 35 died suddenly from a heart attack.
But his dream lives on. Starting in 2017, the Food Bank intends to operate Mike’s Lunch Baskett every Saturday morning.
Central, along with a number of other churches, provides teams of volunteers, to continue Mike’s dream. Again in 2017, Central will provide a team the fourth Saturday of each month. We meet at the Food Bank on Ainslie St at 9:45 to setup. The meal is prepared by the staff at the . Our role is to setup the room, serve the food and sit and talk to and most importantly, listen to the people who come to the dinner. We then cleanup the hall and the dishes. The commitment is about 4 hours or so. We’re not necessarily looking for people who will commit to working every month. If you can give one or two Saturday mornings during the year, we will gladly accept your offer of help.
If you wish to help, you can contact Denise McLellan or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.