Tag Archive: food banks toronto

  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. Light Up the Season

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    It’s that time of year again!  CBC is teaming up with food banks across the GTA to raise food and funds to make sure our communities have the food they need to thrive.

    Sadly, we at North York Harvest, along with other GTA food banks, need your support now more than ever. Local, provincial and national reports are showing alarming statistics regarding food bank use in our communities.

    • Food bank use is up across Toronto, with the greatest increase in use happening in the inner suburbs, like North York. 16,000 people will turn to us this month alone to keep food on their tables.
    • 1 in 3 food bank users are children
    • 35% of food bank users will go an entire day without eating
    • Food bank usage of seniors has skyrocketed 26.5% in the past year

    Here’s how our community is taking action to change those alarming findings:

    Hilltop Middle School has partnered with us throughout the CBC Sounds of the Season Event.  They are focused on collecting the food bank items that are vital to the health of our neighbours struggling to put food on the table: rice, canned tomatoes, canned fish, beans and lentils and cooking oil.

    These amazing students have been working hard to make sure people in their community have nutritious food to eat.  Their activities have included hosting a school assembly, holding a class competition to collect food, and using their school newsletter and class activities to share information about hunger in Toronto.

    One of the students even went Trick or Treating on Halloween to collect items for North York Harvest instead of candy.  AMAZING!

    To celebrate the incredible work done by the students of Hilltop and the other schools participating on behalf of other food banks, we’ll all be having a friendly food sort competition at the Daily Bread Food Bank location on Friday December 8th.

    Want to help Hilltop? Make a donation on their behalf here!


    CBC has been a phenomenal partner in spreading the word about the state of poverty and food insecurity in the city and how food banks across the GTA are taking action on these issues.  Our Forklift Instructor Tammy was featured in an inspiring story talking about her journey from food bank user to working here at NYH and the joy that her family felt about her success – you can read it here!

    Last year you raised $727,226 through Sounds of the Season for GTA Food Banks!

    This year we need you more than ever to make sure everyone in our community can access the healthy food they need to thrive!

    Here’s how you can take action:

    Learn more about Sounds of the Season and pledge your support

    Join our Winter Food Drive and help collect food and funds for those who need us most.

    Help us spread the word about food bank use in North Toronto – follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and share your commitment to ending hunger in our community.

     



  3. 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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  4. 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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  5. 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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  6. 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.

  7. 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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  8. Everyday Hero

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    Guest blog by Shirah Stern

    Not all heroes wear capes.

    One everyday hero located right in your community is Kayla*. I recently had the opportunity to meet Kayla at the North York Harvest Annual General Meeting back in February. We were in a workshop together and she shared her experiences as a food bank volunteer. I needed to hear more so I could share her story with you.

    Kayla has been a volunteer at her local food bank for more than two years dedicating her time six days per week. This is quite incredible as Kayla suffers from many health issues such as a degenerative disk disease in her back, panic attacks, insomnia and is waiting to have knee surgery. This doesn’t stop our hero though; she chooses to work through the pain to make a difference in the lives of her neighbours in need. “If I could have sleepovers here I would!” jokes Kayla.

    Kayla’s tasks at the food bank include receiving deliveries, stocking shelves, serving clients and records management. She even packs and delivers food hampers for the “Fresh Start” program that does home deliveries for seniors as well as those unable to physically make it to the food bank. The services she and her other fellow volunteers provide benefit children, families, seniors, those with disabilities and people who can’t leave their home.

    A typical food hamper from a NYH food bank

    A typical food hamper from a NYH food bank

    Regardless of Kayla’s health problems, she feels that giving her time at the food bank gives her something else to focus on and a purpose. She strives to make a difference in the lives of her fellow neighbours. This can be done through her daily food bank tasks or even going above and beyond to help someone in need. One particular story of Kayla’s is a time that she was able to assist a client with her job search. The client had needed to know CPR in order to be eligible for a job but could not afford the training. Kayla took the time to research and found a course that was offered for free.

    Kayla told me that seeing a smile on the face of someone she has helped is so rewarding in her work.

    It absolutely blows me away when I see this kind of dedication from volunteers. And it is throughout the network! Each day volunteers take time out of their day to come in and help their neighbours meet their food needs.

    Without your support, we wouldn’t be able to have incredible stories like this to share. From you to me, me to Kayla, Kayla to the client and back to you again – we are really part of something bigger than ourselves. I feel that being able to share these stories truly closes the circle of connectivity in our community

    Join Kayla in being a community hero!

    Together we all work as a community to make a difference for more than 15,000 people that access these types of programs each month!

    Donate today!

    Volunteer!

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