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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
It’s that crazy time of year! The cold weather and December brings a busy time for us all and if you’re anything like me, you’ve got some holiday plans on your schedule too. I’m tired just thinking about all that’s going on before we kick off the new year.
What do the holidays mean to you? Is it about family and celebration? Or maybe a time to reflect on your past year and what is to come? The holidays can be different for every person.
But, the holidays can be harder for some people than others. Sometimes they can be much harder than they were just the year before.
Penny has two daughters aged 7 and 11. As a single mom, she works full time while her daughters go to school and take dance classes.
Everything was going well until the unexpected happened.
All of a sudden, Penny was also needed to be caregiver to her two elderly and sick grandparents. She had not planned for this kind of bump in the road.
We’ve all had those times where something unexpected has happened. Luckily for some people there is financial support or family to fall back on during those times. Others, like Penny find themselves trapped.
“I didn’t know what to do. I’ve always been a planner but I didn’t know how I was going to plan my way through this,” Penny says of the experience, “All of a sudden I had to take care of the whole family – not just myself and the girls.”
With her family depending on her, she knew that she needed outside help. She wouldn’t have time or money to take care of everything – especially during this time of year.
That’s when Penny ended up at the food bank.
Between the hamper that she receives every other week from her local food bank, store sales and coupon clipping; Penny has found a way to ensure that everyone in her family is able to eat nutritious meals each day.
“If not for the food bank, there’s no way I would be able to feed my family and give my kids the holiday celebration that they deserve.” Penny says, “The holidays are much harder than usual but I’m glad to know that I can get help – anyone can.”
Penny has been saving up bit by bit to be able to give her kids gifts and a nice dinner.
“I want them to have what other kids have, they shouldn’t be left out of a holiday. Thanks to the help we are getting from the food bank – they don’t have to be.”
Because of your support during the Winter Food Drive – Penny will be able to serve a healthy holiday meal to her whole family and that is something to celebrate!
Hunger doesn’t hibernate and we can make a difference for families just like Penny’s!
This post is all about YOU and how absolutely GRATEFUL we are to have you in the North York Harvest family!
YOU make it possible to provide food for your neighbours that would otherwise go hungry.
YOU come out to volunteer, donate funds, show support and be a part of our community.
Each month your generosity touches more than 15,000 people in Toronto. Thank you!
Without YOU we wouldn’t have been able to help your neighbours access food this year.
This year we shared with you stories from many people. People who were directly impacted because of you. And those stories are just the tip of the iceberg!
From Jenna, who started grade four this year and loves science and gym class. And her mom Trish, who had her hours cut at work. Trish wasn’t sure how to pay the bills. YOU ensured that Jenna didn’t go to school hungry!
Your support helped Katherine, a dietician at a prenatal drop in program. With your help, she was able to teach women about healthy eating on a budget. YOU ensured that they would be able to feed themselves while they were pregnant and continue to provide nutritious meals as their children grow.
More than 800 York University students use the campus food bank every week. YOU made sure that they were able to access the food they needed to help them concentrate on their studies instead of hunger.
Marlene, a volunteer at a local food bank was able to give her neighbours more than just food when they came in hungry. She was able to connect them with free services throughout the city to help them with parenting classes, recreational activities, resume building and more.
Over 300 Syrians fleeing war and violence came to the Oriole Food Space after arriving in Canada. There they have found more than food for their families, but the opportunity for a new life, work, friends and a chance. A chance they wouldn’t have gotten without your support.
And Jennifer who is only 17 years old. She found herself pregnant and homeless…instead of her original plan to go off to college and start her career. YOU made sure she was able to feed herself and her son during these tough times.
These are only some of the people that you helped this year alone! There are thousands more people that you directly impact through your generosity and support!
We can’t do it without you and we couldn’t imagine trying!
Thank you for all you do – it makes a world of difference – to us and the neighbours that you may never know.
“We take a lot of things for granted,” Lynne, long-time donor of the food bank shares. “Basic things like clothes, blankets and especially food.” This is one of the reasons that drew Lynne to the food bank. This is her story.
For the longest time we didn’t have a refrigerator. I would take my toy buggy with me and walk with my mom to the grocery store every day. Food was scarce but I don’t remember going super hungry. We lived by the waterfront and there were always men asking my grandparents if we had work for them. “We share what we have,” was my grandma’s philosophy. She would always invite them in and even when there was no work, she would make them some lunch before they left. Kids were always coming to our house for lunch. Food and community were a big part of our lives. That was a long time ago. But even today food and community are still an important part of my life.
I eventually went on to study home economics and early child education at university. Eventually I started working in the inner city supporting moms with prenatal care and nutrition. There are a lot of families that were financially compromised and we spent a lot of time focusing on the importance of healthy food – where to get it, how to make it economically and what they could use to make healthy meals without spending too much. But it wasn’t only about food. After all, community is a big part of the equation. After my first husband passed away I was a single mom trying to work, take care of my children and make ends meet.
I often would share food with my neighbours who were also struggling, often because life was hard and lonely and sharing food brought us together and brought so much joy.
It’s no surprise that the same focus on sharing what you have, food and community was passed from my grandparents through my family to my children. When our kids were growing up, food and giving was a part of the family culture. We tried to eat dinner together as much as we could and during the holidays we would come together to make Christmas hampers. It was a family tradition. Even now, though my kids are older we still come together, four generations of family and they do it every year.
I started to support the food bank because it simply made sense. There are so many families out there without enough food to eat.
I may not be able to give to all of them directly but I can partner with an organization that is working to do that. You don’t have to be wealthy, you just have to share what you have. I tell my kids that all the time. Because none of us exist on our own.
We are part of something bigger, bigger than just ourselves and giving is a part of that, a part of our lives.
And that is exactly what North York Harvest Food Bank, with the generous support of Lynne and donors just like her are doing. Like the philosophy that Lynne’s grandparents lived by whatever we have we share. Join Lynne and the other amazing NYH supporters to ensure that no family in Toronto goes hungry this fall.
Sometimes we don’t realize how much our actions make a difference to people we’ve never even met. But I want to take the time to share with you how your actions of supporting your local food bank have changed lives and come full circle.
Mr. and Mrs. Perez moved here with their family over a year ago fleeing a very difficult situation back home. When they arrived, they found themselves needing to go to the food bank to help them get back on their feet.
Not long ago I had a chat with them as they were spending time volunteering with us. They told me that the reason they now volunteer in the food bank is because they want to pay it forward.
“I want others to know that someone out there cares for them. Coming from the situation in our past – it can be hard to understand that there are people who actually care.”
When the Perez family came to Canada, they struggled to find jobs because they didn’t speak English – which in turn meant they struggled to put food on the table for their children. “It wasn’t until we came to the food bank that we realized people really cared, from volunteers, to staff and donors – everyone wants to make sure that no one goes hungry. In a country like Canada, no one should have to.” Mr. Perez told me.
Unfortunately, the number of food bank users in our city keeps growing. According to the latest Who’s Hungry report, there were over 900,000 visits to Toronto food banks last year. That is a 48% increase in the suburbs since 2008.
Mrs. Perez told me that on their first visit to the food bank she was surprised at the kind of options they had, “I was able to find ingredients to make recipes that I used to make for my family back home. It really helped my children as a lot of this new Canadian food was strange to them”. Personally when I see the kind of donations that come into the food bank, I am also surprised by the vast variety and selection that sometimes gets donated. I think it is great that just because a person needs to use the food bank they still are able to have a choice as to what goes into their food hamper, just as they would if going to a grocery store. It’s also important that we have choice to accommodate dietary restrictions and allergies.
It’s great know that Perez family have adjusted to Canada and glad to be a part of our community. It can be really hard picking up and changing your life. There are many worries that one can have in a situation like that – whether or not you’ll be able to have a meal shouldn’t have to be one of them.
These days Mr. Perez works at a full time job and speaks English very well. His kids go off to school each day having had a healthy breakfast and he just wants the same for people that are now where he was. Each week the Perez family go to the food bank they used to use but now they do to stock shelves and help others pick out groceries to feed their own families.
Mr. Perez loves giving back to his local food bank, “I am very grateful that I can give back to people that are just like I once was; worrying about whether their children are going to have something to eat that day or not. If not for the food bank, I might still be worrying.”
More than 16,000 people will use a food bank in your community this month. Because of you they will be able to leave knowing that their kids (and themselves) will not have to go without a nutritious meal to help them get back on their feet.
Please consider making a generous donation or volunteering to help our new neighbours get back on their feet.