Setting the Table – The Power of a Meal

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A message from Aniska Ali,  North York Harvest’s New Director of Development and Marketing

As Thanksgiving approaches, I, like many of you, am preparing to welcome family and friends to my home. Pumpkin printed napkins have been fished out of storage containers, recipes have been bookmarked, and shopping lists have been made. My daughter has been collecting leaves for weeks for our table’s centerpiece, her part of our family’s annual tradition. On Monday, she’ll help set the table, and I’ll fuss in the kitchen, bickering with my husband and my sister about how much sage to add to the stuffing and how frequently to baste the turkey. These are our rituals, these are the acts that make Thanksgiving familiar and special – these are things I’ll remember as time goes by.

Food is a big part of my life. Talking about the power of it, and sadly, the lack of it for so many in our community fills my days. What often gets lost in our rush to make sure there’s enough is an understanding of the role food plays in uniting us. The sharing and enjoyment of a meal is a simple, but profound, pleasure that brings us together, across cultures, ages and backgrounds. Eating together is, and should be, a daily experience of connection.

Unfortunately that is simply not the case for the 15,000 people we serve each month. Skyrocketing housing prices, precarious employment and social assistance rates that have failed to keep up with the cost of the living put the joy food brings out of reach for so many of our neighbours. Sadly, we know all too well that loneliness and isolation go hand in hand with living in poverty.

That’s why North York Harvest offers programs like community kitchens to give people in our neighbourhood a chance to meet friends, cook together, and share a meal in a welcoming place.

As Maudlyn, one of our members and a retired caterer told us recently, “This program is a commitment to myself.  It gets me out of the house to socialize with others. My favourite part is actually setting the table, it feels like we are having a real family meal”.

Thank you for making stories like Maudlyn’s possible. Thank you for believing as we do that, everyone deserves a safe place where they can meet people, build friendships, feel included and eat delicious food regardless of their income. Thank you for investing in programs like these that make North York Harvest so much more than a food bank. We hope you know just how much your support means to us and the community we serve.

From all of us here, Happy Thanksgiving!

Looking for a way to make sure everyone has a place at the table? Make your gift here: https://northyorkharvest.com/donateffd/


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