Author Archives: Michelle Rowe-Jardine

  1. Volunteer Spotlight: Meet Müge!

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    Volunteer Spotlight: Meet Müge

    Last year, more than 26,000 volunteer hours were worked at North York Harvest. We are grateful for every person who generously gives their time to

    A woman with long dark hair smiles while sitting at a table and holding a stack of surveys. ensure our community members can get the dignified food support they need. This month, we would like to highlight Müge, one of our newer volunteers who helps out at Lawrence Heights Community Food Space. Whether it’s serving clients or helping to conduct surveys for our annual Who’s Hungry reports, we’re glad she’s part of the team!

    What made you want to volunteer at North York Harvest?

    After moving from Istanbul to Toronto just three months ago, I sought to connect with the community and contribute in a meaningful way. My background in the food industry has always fueled my passion for food and social responsibility.

    In London I was deeply impacted by the initiative to donate unsold pastries to a local charity for the homeless. This experience not only relieved my concerns about waste but also filled me with a sense of purpose, knowing that our efforts helped those in need enjoy quality food. Eager to replicate this positive impact in my new city, I discovered North York harvest and was impressed by its mission and community involvement.

    Have you volunteered elsewhere previously?

    While I do not have extensive experience with regular volunteer commitments, my involvement in humanitarian efforts following the devastating earthquake in Turkey on February 6, 2023, was eye-opening. This involvement was an urgent response to a critical need and helped lay a foundation for my passion for community service.

    Can you describe your experience volunteering at NYH so far?

    My experience volunteering at North York Harvest has been incredibly fulfilling, both personally and for my community.

    Each day, I see firsthand how much the distributed food means to those who receive it. There’s a profound sense of gratitude and relief among the beneficiaries, which deeply resonates with me. Volunteering here has reinforced my passion for helping others. The environment at NYH is one of mutual respect and cooperation; we’re all driven by a shared goal to make a tangible difference in peoples’ lives.

    Every session ends with a sense of accomplishment and a reminder of the positive impact we can have when we work together. Overall, my time at North York Harvest has been an enriching journey that has not only helped me connect with the local community but has also affirmed the value of collective action in addressing food insecurity.

    Four people stand with their arms around one another while smiling at a camera. In the foreground is a table with food items including eggs.


    Interested in volunteering? Check out all of our current volunteer opportunities at  www.northyorkharvest.com/volunteer/

  2. Menstrual Equity Fund

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    Menstrual Equity Fund

    Did you know 1 in 6 Canadians who menstruate experience period poverty?

    A man and woman wearing red North York Harvest hats smile with arms crossed in front of a large stack of menstrual products in a warehouse.

    At North York Harvest, menstrual products are something our clients are always asking about, as far too many have to choose between buying these products or having enough food to eat.

    We are proud to have participated in Food Banks Canada’s Menstrual Equity Fund, which is a collaboration across industry partners, including other food banks, with funding from Women and Gender Equality Canada.

    The pilot aimed to provide products to diverse, low-income communities across the country while raising awareness of menstrual equity and reducing stigma about menstruation.

    Through this pilot, over 48 million period product units were delivered across participating food banks in Canada, reaching more than 2 million individuals.

    Across our network, we have received 2,500 boxes of these products to ensure those who need them most will receive them.

    “A lot of our families right now, when you have two or three members of your household who need these products – it gets incredibly expensive,” says Nisha Joshi, Manager of our Albion Community Food Space.

    Albion serves about 700 clients each month, and Nisha says when people first saw them on the shelf they were really happy to have menstrual products available.

    A woman wearing a red North York Harvest hat stands smiling outside in front of a brightly painted shipping container“Even during times when we had what I’d call high-value household items like toothpaste, toilet paper and other household things people are really looking for, clients were still taking the Maxi pads,” Nisha says.

    “Because it’s something they need and it’s something that’s so incredibly expensive right now.”

    At current prices, a box of menstrual pads is about $8-10. After paying rent and utilities, food bank users in Toronto have a median of $6.67 left per day for all other necessities, according to our 2023 Who’s Hungry report.

    Through this pilot, we were able to ease the cost burden on so many clients in our community so they could use those funds for other necessities.


    Thank you to the following product and distribution vendors, and education and advocacy partners for making this pilot possible: Joni, McKesson Canada, Always Tampax, Edgewell Personal Care, Aisle, Only, Marlow, Oko Creations, Knix, The Period Purse, Moon Time Connections, Free Periods Canada, Monthly Dignity, Project Aim, and Help A Girl Out.

  3. Climbing a mountain to fight food insecurity

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    Climbing a mountain to fight food insecurity

    Would you hike up a mountain 15 times in support of North York Harvest?

    It’s a big ask, but that’s exactly what our new Board Chair Christine Farrugia accomplished recently!

    A woman wearing sunglasses and a hat cheers as she ascends the Sun Valley mountain in Idaho.

    She joined the 29029 Everesting endurance hiking event on June 7-8 to challenge herself and support her community. With her friends, she ascended Sun Valley in Idaho 15 times over 32.5 hours (with breaks for sleep and eating).

    “It was great that I could do this challenge for myself, while also making it about community and giving back to North York Harvest,” she says.

    Christine not only completed this hiking challenge, she also exceeded her fundraising goal for a total of $5,660!

    Since joining the Board of Directors in 2020, Christine has become acutely aware of the growing need in our community.

    “What I’ve been telling my friends and coworkers, because I think a lot of people don’t realize, is 1 in 10 people in Toronto accessed a food bank last year” she says. “The need for food banks is higher than ever.”

    Whether it’s through joining NYH’s Coldest Night of the Year fundraising event, bringing her colleagues in to volunteer or getting her children involved in food drives, Christine has spent her time on the Board raising awareness of food insecurity and encouraging everyone to act.

    Now as Board Chair, Christine says she’s looking forward to helping to shape the future strategy of North York Harvest and help meet the food needs of our community today while working toward long-term solutions to end food insecurity in our city.

    A woman hikes up a grassy mountain among trees and sunshine.