As one of Toronto’s largest food banks, collecting and distributing food to people is our core business. Each day, our trucks are on the road picking up food and donations and bringing them back to our distribution centre, where we sort, store and re-distribute to our network of 77 community programs. More than 2.3 million pounds of food moved through our warehouse in 2015.
About half of our food comes from the food industry through donations of surplus, close to code or superficially damaged products. Another third comes from food drives with supermarket chains, workplaces, schools, faith groups and community organizations. The remainder of our food arrives through the Food Banks Canada National Food Sharing System, from local farms and gardens, and from wholesale food purchases.
Teams of dedicated volunteers sort food on a daily basis and as part of school and group volunteering activities. Sorting is a crucial part of our quality control where products are evaluated for their safety on an item-by-item basis. We follow strict food-safety protocols, and we discard food that doesn’t meet these standards. The food is then categorized (e.g. “vegetables,” “rice,” etc.) to help track inventory.
We distribute food to about 47 community agencies in northern Toronto that operate a total of 77 food programs. Each agency order is comprised of a mix of food categories based on the needs of a particular program. North York Harvest is one of the few remaining food banks to offer free deliveries to member agencies, allowing them to direct more of their budgets towards core services.