From October 5 to 8, Centerpoint Mall will be running a Food Drive for North York Harvest. For every donation of non-perishable food items worth $10 or more, you will receive an eco bag from Centerpoint Mall!
Share your photo with the centre on Instagram or Facebook to get a chance to win a $100 shopping spree.
Comments Off on Education At the Heart Of Community
Food insecurity has been a longstanding concern in North York’s Keele and Finch neighbourhood where
ANIDA Foundation is located, but over the past year and a half the organization’s executive director Samuel Donker says that need has grown exponentially.
“Pre-pandemic we served 30 to 60 people bi-weekly, now it’s 350 depending on the needs of seniors,” he says. According to Donker, the way in which North York Harvest responded to its member agencies during the pandemic helped keep their program running in very real ways. “There was a lot of uncertainty but the resources we had access to allowed us to continue to serve clients safely,” he says. Shifting their operations from indoors to outside required tents, vests for staff and access to technology, all of which were facilitated by North York Harvest. Grant funding also helped ANIDA launch a seniors delivery program which continues to serve 100 seniors on a bi-weekly basis.
Along with providing nourishing food, ANIDA is also focused on feeding minds through educational programs. “We have a reading program for children along with a book bank thanks to our partnership with Indigo,” explains Donker. “Having the food bank allows us to offer access to our other resources and programs which people wouldn’t otherwise know were available.” As with other member agencies, food is the connection to education and so much more as we all work towards building healthier communities
Comments Off on Back to School Brings New Opportunities
As we approach the new school year, families that are already experiencing food insecurity are facing additional challenges as they prepare their school-aged children for September.
Like many in our community whose employment was disrupted due to the pandemic, Christina lost her full-time position last summer. When she found out one of North York Harvest’s food spaces operates from her neighbourhood community centre, she became a client.
“Those were trying times after losing my job and having a school-aged child idling at home throughout the summer,” shares Christina.
Over the last decade, children have made up just over 20% of Canada’s general population yet they represent more than 30% of our food bank clients.
Christina was appreciative of the additional food she got from North York Harvest every other week. “Not having to constantly worry about getting enough healthy food after paying rent and other necessities is a huge relief.”
The North York Harvest strives to maintain an accessible and equitable network so that the most vulnerable, especially families with children and seniors, can receive the support they need. Currently North York Harvest is providing emergency food to more than 2,500 individuals each week.
Our service is made possible by the generosity of community members like The Schulich Foundation. Please join us in spreading hope, health and well-being for the community, and double your impact before the end of September.
The Schulich Foundation, one of North York Harvest’s long-standing supporters, wants to ensure the generosity of neighbours-helping-neighbours has an even greater impact and will match all donations, dollar-for-dollar up to $100,000, until September 30.
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!
Comments Off on “I wanted to make sure others have the same chance I did.” – How Theresa Pays it Forward
Asking for help is hard.
When Theresa visited our Lawrence Heights Community Food Space for the first time, her hands were shaking. “I was so embarrassed to have to ask for food,” she remembers. The single mother was desperately in need of help to put food on her table, but we often hear, Theresa felt ashamed of her situation.
Theresa’s situation, however, is not unlike the ones many others face in Toronto. “I was new to the city. I came here because I thought I’d be able to find work. But it was harder than I expected.” Because of the generosity of our community, Theresa was greeted warmly by Julie, our Food Bank Manager.
She walked away with the food she needed and a new sense of belonging. Just like 1 in 3 of our clients, Theresa wanted to “pay it forward”. Even though she was in a time of personal crisis, she was determined to give back so others could receive the same help she had. She became a volunteer to create a safe, friendly space for her neighbours who were also struggling.
“I told Julie to call me whenever she needed help – day or night. I wanted to make sure others have the same chance I did. I know this community needs help, so I’m helping in the way I can,” Theresa insists with a shy smile.
Stories like Theresa’s happen at North York Harvest agencies every day. Emergency food assistance makes life a little better and restores a sense of purpose and hope. People come in for help and find a community.
Your support makes sure that providing emergency food support is just the beginning of our relationship with people like Theresa. And just like you, Theresa is committed to building a healthier Northern Toronto.
Will you join Theresa and give what you can to make sure our community members in need can find healthy food across Northern Toronto?
Comments Off on Setting the Table – The Power of a Meal
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.