Kelly-Sue Oberle insists she is not a hero.
“I’m just the puppet master,” says the Chief Passion Development Officer for Food4Kids Waterloo Region. “All of the people working with me – my small staff and the hundreds of volunteers – are the ones that deserve all the credit.”
Food4Kids Waterloo Region provides packages of healthy food for kids aged 14 years and under, with limited or no access to food each weekend, and daily during the summer, winter and spring breaks. When COVID-19 hit our region, it was the start of March break; Oberle and her staff of drivers and volunteers was packaging and delivering food to the 580 kids (248 families) that are part of their program to make sure they had enough to eat for the week. Then, within days, the province announced the closure of all schools. Food4Kids knew this would make it even harder on the families in need they serve. Each family was called to determine the need for nutritional food support beyond March break.
“We said: ‘We are here for you,’” Oberle recalls. “Many agencies stopped operating when COVID hit. They were not prepared for the increased demand. We are a small and flexible organization that can turn on a dime. We figured we could do something until the other agencies could get up and running again. Once they step into the game, it will take some pressure off of us.”
For now, Food4Kids Waterloo Region is delivering $10,000 worth of grocery cards to extremely food insecure families each week. The number of families they serve has climbed to 600. The most touching part for Oberle was that the kids’ teachers were the first ones to volunteer to hand deliver the gift cards. “It was tear jerking,” she says. “They were so excited to see these kids.”