Tag Archive: canada

  1. Summer Heroes

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    What if you simply couldn’t afford the food your child needed to be well?

    That’s an issue that I must face each day.  

    My name is Jessica. My 9 year old son, David, lives with a disability. His doctors say he has to avoid processed foods with lots of salt and sugar because they can make his condition worse.

    As you know, it’s much easier to afford processed foods than it is to purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and whole grains.  It can be such a struggle just to get a healthy meal on the table.

    That’s why I am so grateful for North York Harvest Food Bank as well as the donors and volunteers that make these programs possible. Being able to visit the food bank makes giving David the food he needs so much easier.

    I know how much these foods matter to families using food banks, not just from the impact they make in my home, but through my volunteer work. I’ve been volunteering at the food bank for as long as I’ve been a client. When we have fresh food to offer, I watch my neighbours faces light up.

    I come home from every volunteer shift knowing I made a difference.

    And we need YOU to help us make a difference more than ever this summer!

    Summer is a difficult time at the food bank. Food donations aren’t as frequent so we have less food to share. With the kids out of school, they don’t have access to school food programs that are vital to their health.

    So many of the families I see at the food bank are going through the same thing. This is why your support is so important right now.

    By making a gift to North York Harvest, they can purchase the food our communities need, so no one is forced to go without during the summer.

    I know what a difference your support of the food bank  makes. Every time I sit down with my kids at the table to share a meal, I feel grateful that I’m part of a community that cares so much about each other.  

    Be a Summer Hero and your impact will be TRIPLED this summer. Every $1 you give, will be stretched to $3 worth of meals for people in need of food in your community! DONATE TODAY!

  2. Childhood Hunger Has No Place At School

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    Every day, people in your community rely on food banks to put food on the table for their families. In fact, North York Harvest helps more than 15,000 people meet their basic food needs each month. Many people don’t know that over 30% of people using our food bank are children – and a growing number of them in our community will be going back to school this year without enough food to be healthy and successful in school.

    Tricia is a teacher at Beaumonde Heights Junior Middle School, one of our local schools. She sees many students coming to school with empty stomachs. Her students understand what it is like to use a food bank – either because their own family uses one, or one of their friends.

    Beaumonde Heights JMS has hosted food drives for North York Harvest for 15 years, and this year is no different. All students get involved in the food drive to support their school, friends and neighbours. They know just how important these programs are.

    Of course, childhood hunger is a symptom of family poverty. North York Harvest and our agencies are on the frontlines of a childhood poverty epidemic: according to a recent report, nearly 27% of children in Toronto live in poverty. In the North York community, that percentage is much higher.  In some of our neighborhoods, almost 44% of children are living in poverty – and are much less likely to have access to enough healthy food to be successful in school.

    We are facing serious challenges in this community. But every day, we are inspired by acts of compassion from people like Tricia who are determined to make a difference in the lives of kids in North York.

    Today you can take action to join Tricia and the students from Beaumonde Heights in making a difference for kids heading back to school this fall.  By making a gift to North York Harvest Food Bank you will be helping thousands of kids and their parents that rely on programs that provide healthy meals and snacks.

    All children, no matter where they live or what their circumstances, deserve the same opportunity to succeed.

    Donate today to make a difference for kids in our community!

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  3. Community Food Spaces

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    The North York Harvest Food Bank offers a number of programs and services in addition to our warehousing and distribution operations. Our top priority in running these spaces is to have incredible customer service for anyone that comes to our programs.  

    Find out more about each of these amazing community spaces and those that we serve in these programs.

    Learn more about Oriole Food Space

    Learn more about Bathurst Finch Community Food Bank

    Learn more about Lawrence Heights Community Food Space

    Oriole Food Space

    The Oriole Food Space, located in the Oriole Community Centre at 2975 Don Mills Road West, is a multi-use community food space designed to build a healthy community, together, through food. It does so by offering a variety of programs, including community kitchens, drop-in food bank hours, food skills workshops, gardening workshops, and farm trips.

    Bathurst Finch Community Food Space

    The Bathurst-Finch Community Food Bank supports local individuals and families with food assistance and helps to create connections with other neighbourhood resources. The program also works to foster community participation and action around food-related issues and it will regularly host visiting agencies, deliver workshops and run field trips for participants.

    Lawrence Heights Community Food Space

    The Lawrence Heights Community Food Space is located at 6 Pengarth Ct.  The program provides an on site community food bank, community garden, as well as information and referral services to a wide range of community resources and supports, extending beyond food assistance.

     

    Would you like to support these amazing programs?  

    We’re always looking for donors to sponsor daily food bank activities, community kitchens, community gardens, farm trips and events that mean so much to our community members!  Contact Leslie to get involved –   416-635-777 x 21 / leslie@northyorkharvest.com

     

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  4. Basic Income Basics

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    There has been quite a lot of talk about basic income lately in the news.  A basic income is a guarantee to Canadian families and individuals that they will be able to meet a minimum income level regardless of employment status.

    This could mean big things for the hundreds of thousands of people in Toronto that struggle to make ends meet to pay for everyday needs such as rent, utilities, transit and food.

    This has come up for a lot of debate among Canadians. It also raises a lot of questions about the impact on our communities and economy. In an effort to answer some of the most asked questions about basic income,  I spoke with Elaine Power, co-founder of the Kingston Action Group for Basic Income Guarantee

     


    How do you think basic income will benefit the community?

    If we had a basic income program that was available to all who needed it and a basic income program that effectively eliminated poverty, there could be dramatic benefits to the community. The research suggests that public health would improve and health care costs would drop. Eliminating poverty means that kids would have a better start in life, do better in school and have fairer chances in life, and this could also decrease crime rates over time.

    If we take away the desperate need for people to find any kind of work that they can, it could liberate people to engage their passion and contribute to their communities through volunteer work and the arts, or to take risks, e.g., with a small business, that they wouldn’t otherwise do. When people have basic economic security, it enables them to dare to do new & different things.

    I believe that a basic income program will help build social solidarity, to rebuild a sense of the collective, that we are part of neighbourhoods and communities.

    How will this impact the economy & the taxpayer?

    People who live in poverty spend their money on basic necessities, like food, shelter, clothing, activities for their kids. They won’t be taking their money out of the country for expensive vacations. That will have an economic multiplier effect, and could make a profound impact in smaller, more rural communities that are struggling. 

    Research shows that poverty has a high economic cost and that poverty reduction has a big return on investment. A report by the Ontario Association of Food Banks suggested “With the huge savings that could be achieved over time by reducing poverty and its burdensome social costs, the province could very likely pay for the need mix of policies without asking taxpayers for anything more.”  The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has calculated that every dollar invested in reducing poverty would result in about a $2 return on investment. In other words, poverty reduction is at worst cost-neutral and likely would save money over time.

    Do you feel as though there could be any negatives/drawbacks that come from having a basic income?

    Well, the negatives or drawbacks depend on the type of basic income program that would get implemented. There are different models. Some on the political right would like to see the implementation of a basic income in order to reduce other government supports and services, like public housing. This would not improve the lives of people living in poverty or likely reduce poverty overall, because people would have to pay more of their income for what are now public services. We would not see the types of economic savings I mentioned above in that case.

    I am a proponent of a progressive basic income that is part of rebuilding the social safety net, would improve the lives of people living in poverty and would result in dramatic reductions – or the virtual elimination – of poverty.

    How will this affect the food bank and food bank users?

    The best sign of the effectiveness of basic income or any poverty reduction/elimination strategy would be that food banks are able to close up because of lack of demand. Those who founded food banks back in the 1980’s thought that food banks were an “emergency” response to an economic downturn and that they would close once the economy improved. I have a report from a meeting of food banks in Toronto and area from 1991 that wrestles with the question of when and how Toronto food banks might close. An effective basic income would allow food bank users to acquire food like everyone else. They still might choose to attend hot meal programs, food skills programs, community gardens and community kitchens – but there will be more freedom and choice to do that, not a sense of dire need.

    Is the proposed amount of $16,989 enough to get by for individuals?

    Like social assistance, the problem with a fixed amount is that the cost of living varies quite a lot across the province – from Toronto to Windsor to northern Ontario. As I understand it, the rationale for making it less than the LICO ( low income cut-offs) or the LIM ( Low Income Measure) is that people will get other federal income transfers, like the GST credit. But I suppose part of the idea of the pilot is to assess if the amount is enough.

    Others, like Guy Caron, who is a candidate in the federal NDP leadership race, has proposed a basic income that would be set using the Low Income Cut-off or LICO which is adjusted for city and family size.

    What do you say about the idea from opposers that people will go on BI just to “stay home and be lazy”?

    This is probably the most common oppositional response to the idea!!

    If you ask people if they (personally) would just stay home, everyone says “of course not!.” The reality is that about 70% of people who live in poverty are working, which speaks to the inadequacy of minimum wages.

    The reality is that any basic income, whether the Ontario pilot amount or an amount tied to the LICO, is not luxurious. Most people will want to seek paid employment to supplement their incomes. And most people work for reasons other than money.

    And the other issue that this objection is based on is that the only work that is valuable is paid employment. We do all sorts of unpaid, unrecognized, invisible work at home and in our communities, including all the volunteer work that gets done for and at food banks. This is valuable and important work. What basic income will help us do is to decide where to put our time and energies in activities that are meaningful and important for us and for our communities. Some people may “stay home and be lazy” for a little while. Most people would not do that for very long – and if they do, perhaps they need other services to help them find meaningful activity.

    The benefits of a progressive and effective basic income for those living in poverty and for our communities overshadow the objection that a small percentage of people might “stay home and be lazy.”


    The idea of a basic income is a very exciting move forward in our communities. To learn more about the basic income pilot project, visit https://www.ontario.ca/page/ontario-basic-income-pilot

    More Resources:

    Kingston Action Group for Basic Income Guarantee

    Basic Income Initiative

    Basic Income Canada Network

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  5. Soup’s On!

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    Isn’t it amazing what can happen when a community comes together to complete a project and make a difference?

    With your generous support, North York Harvest has become the primary food bank in northern Toronto.  Thanks to you we are able to give nutritious food to over 77 food programs in the city.

    But what if we could take it another step further?  What if we could produce a food product to even out the supply and quality of food received through donations?

    The vision of North York Harvest is a community where all members are able to meet their food needs.  Our mission is to engage our community in meeting the food needs of northern Toronto by providing dignified food assistance, education and long-term food solutions.

    Each day we strive to meet that vision and mission.

    As a community, we have succeeded in kickstarting a new social enterprise thanks to partnerships right here in Toronto.

    Through the generous support of the Metcalf Foundation’s Inclusive Local Economies program, we were able to forge important partnerships with other local organizations working to improve food security in unique ways.  Through these partnerships, we launched three incredible initiatives – we began delivering food to local child care centres, we launched the Leadership In Logistics skills development program, and we piloted community-oriented food production system.  Through the last project, we successfully brought an affordable, nutritious dry soup mix to our local community. 

    With funding secured we were able to team up with FoodShare and Food Starter, to create a dry soup mix that promotes access to affordable, delicious and nutritious food for all.

    To get started, North York Harvest asked our agencies what types of food were most needed and hardest to supply for the clients.

    Within the agencies, there was a need for a hearty, vegetarian soup made with beans and rice that was nutritious but also easy to prepare. For certain dietary needs, it was also important that the soup was low in sodium but still flavourful without being spicy.

    Together through our partnerships, we made a unique Moroccan Lentil Soup. It was sold in FoodShare’s Good Food Boxes and the Grab Some Good pop-up markets operating on various TTC subway platforms. And what is even better is for every soup sold… another soup goes on the shelf for someone using the food bank! 

    It was a hit!

    To prepare the soup mix, we teamed up with the Experiential Learning program at York Humber High School.  The students in this program have special needs and are encouraged to learn life skills through hands on training and real life experience. Each week the students would join Vanessa Yu from caterToronto at Food Starter to prepare several bags of soup that would be given to our community.

    When I met the kids I asked what their favourite part of making the soup was and they seemed to all enjoy sealing up the soup packages the most! They even took soup home to cook and enjoy with their families.

     

    The kids’ teacher, Carmi, says ‘We were so fortunate to have had the opportunity for some of our students to participate in a meaningful real work experience with the NYHFB.  Students really enjoyed the experience and gained valuable employability skills while increasing their self-esteem.  It was wonderful to watch them learn new skills and progress each week. We all look forward to continuing our partnership with the NYHFB and thank them for all their support over the last few months.’

    We are so excited to move forward with this project and to be able to share this soup with you!

    Thank you to all of you that made this happen:

    The Product – Moroccan-Style Red Lentil Soup

    Combination of red lentils, brown rice and five different spices

    Low in calories, high in fibre and a source of protein

    No added sugar, salt, flavours, colours or preservatives

    Easy to prepare – just add water and simmer for 40 minutes

    Delicious on its own, or scalable to individual dietary needs – a great base for added meats, vegetables, salt or spices to taste

    Sold by FoodShare and distributed to food banks by North York Harvest Food Bank — promotes access to affordable, delicious and nutritious food for all

     

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    Join the conversation – we’d love to know your thoughts!  Leave a comment below.

  6. Guest Blog: Blaydon Fit Fair

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    There are some pretty amazing and thoughtful kids in your community!

    One of the greatest partnerships that NYH has in the community is with our local schools.  The partnership allows us to educate students about food security in their community and show them why people they know such as schoolmates or even friends and family use a food bank.  In turn, students take on a very large and important role in advocating for support of everyone’s food needs.  From food drives to fundraising, we are so incredibly grateful for these amazing kids!

    Our guest blog is by Christmel, Ayse and Aishat in grades 4 & 5 at Blaydon Public School!


    Fit Fair

    Written by Christmel and Ayse, Presidents of Healthy Fit Company & Aishat, Production Manager (Grade 4/5)

     

    On April 26, 2017, the grade 4/5 class, with the help of some grade 3 students, organized and ran a Fit Fair! There were all kinds of activities with the goal of helping our school community stay fit.  From smoothies to basketball, yoga to origami and so much more!

    Our main goal was to donate $300 to North York Harvest Food Bank, but we ended up raising $1082! It was a lot of planning and organizing but it was a great success.  Representatives from the North York Harvest Food Bank visited our class the week after our event and told us that of all of the schools that have fundraised for them, we were the school that raised the most. That means, we were able to provide over 3000 much needed meals!

    We thought the Fit Fair made the most sense with our vision of helping our school become healthier and more fit.  And since food plays an important role in being healthy, we decided to donate all the profits to the food bank.  At this time of year, the food banks have more need than supply, so this was the perfect opportunity to help out!  This was an amazing experience for everyone that took part.  With our hard work and your involvement and generosity, we all made this wonderful act of giving a reality at Blaydon PS!


    Great work promoting healthy eating and living in your community! Thank you Blaydon PS!

    Are you interested in getting your school involved in a food drive?  Check out the Food Drive Kit.

    Would you like to join us in providing healthy food for members of your community? Make a donation!

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  7. A Chance to Rebuild

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    daffodil_Winter2

    Guest Blog by Daffodil Davis

    When you lose everything, where do you turn?

    Each and every day in the food bank I meet people from all walks of life.  Each with their own story to tell.  But even though the story is different, we all have a similar goal in life… to take care of our families.

    I first met Layla when I was working at Oriole Food Space in North York.  She moved to Canada with her family to seek refuge from a home that was no longer safe.

    “Everything was gone. Our home, our jobs, our kids couldn’t go to school anymore. We were scared,” she shared with me.

    She came to Canada and was able to reconnect with members of her extended family already living in our community. Layla and her family were overjoyed with the chance to start anew after a life of uncertainty and fear. “My kids were enrolled in school and my husband was working in a restaurant. It finally seemed as though things were turning around for us.”

    But then the unexpected happened. Her husband suffered a severe heart attack and could no longer work at his restaurant job to support the family.

    Once again, Layla felt like she had lost everything. She had to make sure that her kids had a roof over their head and food in their bellies.  Unsure of how to support her family, she turned to one of her new neighbours for advice.  They told her about her local food bank.  She didn’t even know that such places existed in our community to help her and others in need.

    Because of YOUR support, we are able to help people like Layla to make sure that they have access to nutritious food.  Thank you for making a difference!

    Daffodil and OFS Volunteers

    Daffodil and OFS Volunteers

    We are also able to help with referrals for other community programs to assist newcomers with their language skills, resume building and child care. 

    Layla had lost many things, but it doesn’t have to mean that it is lost forever. “Because of the food bank, I was able to feed my kids, feel safe and build a new life. I am so grateful.” 

    Together we can help people in need rebuild what was lost.

    As we enter into the coldest months of winter, the food bank shelves will begin to empty.  We need your help to ensure that when families like Layla’s come to the food bank, there will be enough food to share.

    Please give generously today to keep food on our shelves so our neighbours can feed their families. Give today so that this winter none one goes hungry.

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  8. Looking Back at 2016

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    2016 has come to a close.  It’s been quite the year, hasn’t it?  Whether you had a great year or can’t wait for 2017 to start, we can all agree that a lot has happened over the past 365 days.

    Here at NYH, there has been a lot of excitement and progress over the past year.  We’ve seen many accomplishments and triumphs thanks to our amazing clients, volunteers, donors, staff and supporters!  We wouldn’t have had such a terrific year without YOU!

    I asked my colleagues in the office, warehouse and on the front lines what their favourite memories of 2016 were and got quite an impressive response!

    I considered doing one of those end of year top ten lists but then realized that I can’t decide which is the best one!  So here, in no particular order, are some of the great milestones, achievements and moments from 2016!

    2016 was BIG for programs, partnerships, feedback and healthy eating!

    Of course I couldn’t start off without saying THANK YOU for providing food to people in our community!  This year we served more than 15,000 people every month and distributed over 2.3 MILLION lbs. of food!

    On top of putting food on the table for our neighbours in need, there were many other exciting things happening this year, including:

    Child Care Food Delivery

    This year NYH partnered with Learning Enrichment Foundation to bring healthy meals and snacks to over 1400 kids in childcare programs throughout the city.

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    Mission Kitchen

    For 3 months this year, NYH was able to run a community kitchen in the Lawrence Heights neighbourhood.  Each week, participants came together to learn cooking skills and enjoy a meal together.  Learn more about Mission Kitchen here!

    Food Handling Certificates and Meal Programs

    The Oriole Food Space ran a series of community kitchen programs in partnership with Flemingdon Health Centre and Working Women Community Centre, particularly aimed at Syrian refugees. We trained a group of almost 20 Arabic speaking newcomers in food handling and food safety, necessary skills in securing employment in the food sector.

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    Soup Production

    This year NYH got into the exciting world of food production! We partnered with FoodShare & Foodstarter to form a unique partnership to produce a soup that would help our community meet their food needs.  With the help of students and volunteers, we were able to produce a dry lentil soup that will be sold through FoodShare’s Good Food Boxes & Grab Some Good pop up markets.  Each soup sold will put a soup on the food bank shelf for someone hungry in the community.

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    Toronto Star Santa Hampers

    This was first year we were able to distribute a healthier hamper for those receiving the Toronto Star Santa Claus Fund Hampers.  Every hamper included perishable items including eggs, cheese, apples and more!

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    Farm Fresh

    Many of our clients were able to visit community farms in and around the city to see first hand where some of the fresh and nutritious produce that goes to their table comes from.

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    Client Surveys

    A comprehensive client survey was conducted in our food banks.  Results are being put together now and will be used to guide future programming to ensure clients receive the best service possible!

     

    Logistics Essentials Workforce Development

    Using our warehouse space, we have embarked on a training program for low income individuals to learn skills for the workplace.  Students will learn technical and employments skills as well as receiving certification for Forklift driving, safe food handling and WHMIS.

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    Lawrence Heights

    Lawrence Heights Community Food Space found a new home at 6 Pengarth Court. LHCFS is also our first community food space to move to the new appointment based model.  This allows clients to have an appointment at the food bank to ensure less wait time, giving them better access to services and supports, and a personal touch.

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    Staff Training

    Our frontline staff have had extensive training over the past year in non-violent conflict resolution, working in communities that experience gun violence, trauma informed care, food handlers certificates, developing a community of practice, program development, evaluation and implementation

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    Advocacy Award

    This year we were honoured with the Advocacy Award from the Ontario Association of Food Banks recognizing our efforts towards addressing hunger in the community.

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    Donor Recognition

    This year we celebrated our donors at Taylor’s Landing.  It was a great opportunity to connect with some amazing people that are helping us provide our services in the community.

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     Don’t miss the 2016 wrap up video!

    There are so many other great memories from 2016 and this was only just a few.

    Do you have any highlights of the year? We’d love to know!  Leave your memories in the comment section to share your views!

    Here’s to an even more amazing 2017 helping our community meet their food needs!