Toronto’s Daily Bread Food Bank collected 30,459 pounds of food on part of its Thanksgiving run on Saturday, exceeding its target for the day, and its CEO says the Torontoians are responding to the call for help.
But Neil Hetherington says demand is high in the city and growing. The number of people experiencing food safety has skyrocketed in Toronto during the COVID-19 pandemic and has at times doubled. He said demand is growing as food costs rise, inflation rises and incomes remain stagnant.
On Saturday, however, Toronto responded to the food bank’s pandemic appeal.
“I was thrilled that we hit the target we had set. Hundreds of families came by and delivered food,” Hetherington said Sunday.
“My general feeling is that it’s a wonderful outward expression that the Torontonians have that for many people going food unsafe, and this Thanksgiving, they want to do something about it.”
For five hours, residents lined up in their vehicles to deliver non-perishable food at the Food Bank’s Etobicoke distribution center, 191 New Toronto St. Volunteers loaded donations in cans and crates directly from vehicles. The goal was 30,000 pounds of food.
Hetherington said people responded to the food bank’s request to deliver high-protein items, including tuna, beans and peanut butter.
The Food Bank distributes 60,000 pounds of food every day to Toronto.
Hetherington said the Daily Bread Food Bank continues to see an increase in the number of customer visits. About 60,000 people went to the food belt every month before the pandemic. That number reached 124,500 customer visits in June, he said.
In the year before this pandemic swept Toronto, there were close to 1 million visits to food banks in the city. At the current rate, food bank visits are expected to reach 1.4 million by the end of this year, a figure that would be the highest recorded in the city’s history.
“We are seeing the number increase constantly,” Hetherington said. “When deferral moratoriums end, with the CRB ending, I’m worried about what will happen to the number of people who have to turn to food banks.”
The Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) ends this month, and the moratorium on eviction of homes in Ontario ended on June 2, 2021. October 23 is the application deadline for the last two-week payment of CRB.
The Food Bank hopes to collect 284,000 pounds of food from the community through its Thanksgiving drive by October 31st. Donations are received in fire halls. In addition to donations from the community, the food bank buys food and picks up food from farms.
New faces appeared in the food bank during the pandemic
The Food Bank saw many new faces during the COVID-19 pandemic, he added. They include single people, after-school students and families.
According to the food bank, customers earn a median income of $ 892 a month, less than half the monthly income required to have a basic standard of living. It says that one in five in Toronto is food insecure, and almost one in three food visits is children and young people.
Hetherington said people who go to the food bank include people who may have lost their jobs or who are unable to cope due to their precarious employment. Fifty percent of food bank users have post-secondary education. The difference between those who receive and those who give is income, he added.
“The people who give are individuals who basically believe that the right to food should be in place for every single person,” he said.
Hetherington calls for three things to improve food security in Toronto: affordable housing; governments must talk about providing basic income; and people need to lobby for decent avenues for employment.
Canada has over 61,000 food charities, the report finds
A new report from Second Harvest, titled Canada’s Invisible Food Network, has found that there were more than 61,000 NGOs providing food at no or low cost to people in need in 2019. By comparison, there were 15,344 grocery stores in Canada in 2019.
In Ontario, there were 21,502 charitable food organizations in 2019 compared to 5,368 grocery stores. Second Harvest says the organizations provided food to an estimated 1,878,225 people.
Value Chain Management International, a research firm, did the research.
Lori Nikkel, CEO of Second Harvest, said the national number of charitable food organizations is shocking. Second Harvest describes itself as Canada’s largest food rescue organization and expert in perishable food recycling. The food it restores is redirected to charities and non-profit organizations that ensure people have access to the healthy food they need.
“There are so many places, charities, non-profit organizations that support people with food at either low or no cost, and they just do not know. They do not belong to a larger network of any kind. They are smaller, voluntarily run. But they is all over the country, “she said.
“And the reason we did this study was really to understand where they are so we could map them out and make sure we could get as much food for them as possible. For us, we knew there were a lot of charities. purposes and non-profit organizations doing this work, but we were shocked that there were over 61,000 of them. “
Nickel said there are so many food charities because there are many “great Canadians” who want to help – “they see a hole and they fill it” – but they also exist because Canada has many societal problems.
“The gap between rich and poor continues to grow. We have a lot of unemployment and underemployment. We have an income problem, a housing problem, an affordable daycare problem,” she said.
“The conclusion is that people need to be able to get their food from their grocery store because they have enough money in their pocket or purse or their wallet to buy the food they need for themselves and their family.”