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.
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 / email@example.com
As we get back into our day to day routines after the holidays, I start thinking about the year that has passed as well as what the new year will offer.
I am pleased to share with you my highlights of the year as well as the plan for the upcoming months – there is a lot to look forward to and I would love for you to get involved in any way you can!
Some of my favourite highlights of 2016 really represented the mission of NYH, which includes providing dignified food assistance, education and long-term food solutions.
A New Home for Lawrence Heights Community Food Space
Lawrence Heights Community Food Space moved into 6 Pengarth Court. This was truly a community-led initiative: a team from Bombardier Aerospace’s nearby facility came in to freshen the place up with some new paint, which made it really feel like a home. We also strengthened our relationships with local Lawrence Heights community agencies as we were back in the neighbourhood. The I’m Lawrence program helped us out with installing ramps and railings to aid with our accessibility issues.
We have been more involved with LH related community programming, attending community safety meetings, LHION meetings and forums and bringing the perspective of food security to the community agency table.
The waiting space in the new site is not as large as it was in our previous location, so we created an appointment system to better manage the flow of clients. This allows more dignified food access for everyone, allowing them a private time to use the food bank, one on one time with volunteers and staff as well as safety from the elements as they will not need to wait outside.
A Growing Partnership
Since moving into 116 Industry Street, the Learning Enrichment Foundation and North York Harvest have been committed to strengthening our communities through food and education.
Last year not just one, but two major programs came out of the partnership.
Child Care Food Delivery
As a food bank, NYH transports food to those in need throughout the community. It was only a natural step to join LEF in providing healthy meals to children in childcare. Each day LEF prepares meals and snacks for children from low income families that are in daycare while their parents go to work – and NYH makes sure that the meals reach their destination. Over 1,400 children are served daily through this program.
Logistics Essentials Program
Building on our mission to deliver long-term solutions to combat poverty, we put in place a new program to provide technical training and personal development to low income individuals. The course runs for 13 weeks in our warehouse serving the immediate needs of food bank clients through training. Each year 48 people will receive skills and certifications all geared towards securing stable employment upon completion of the course. Stay tuned to hear about the first graduating group of students!
Moving forward with LEF, we will continue working together to lift individuals out of poverty in the city.
In response to the growing number of individuals that need to use a food bank in our city, we embarked on a new project – to ensure we have a supply of quality food for people that are in need. After consulting with our agencies and clients on their specific food needs, we partnered with Foodshare and Foodstarter, and created a new product – a delicious Moroccan-Style Lentil Soup. This soup is suitable for anyone as it is vegetarian, high in fibre and protein as well as low in calories with no added sugars, salts, flavours, colours or preservatives.
Together with the help of students and volunteers, we were able to produce a first run of the soup that will be sold by FoodShare. For every soup sold, another will be provided to the food bank, ensuring everyone will have access to a healthy, easy to prepare and delicious meal.
Currently we are looking to partner with a school in order to use the soup production and sale process as part of an educational program. This soup program is community oriented, sustainable and provides a long term food solution to the public.
Letting People Be Heard
In 2015 the Toronto Poverty Reduction Strategy was passed during a city council meeting. The goal of the strategy is to address immediate needs such as housing, transportation and food insecurity. I was able to attend a meeting regarding the strategy with NYH Board Chair, Kerry Mitchell to share the perspective of our clients with the mayor and city council. While we work very hard to advocate on behalf of our clients, we also want to establish processes and forums for clients to advocate on their own behalf and share their stories with our city’s decision makers.
This year we are putting together a Speaker’s Bureau within the North York Harvest Food Bank network. This will enable individuals that are experiencing poverty or living in poverty and using programs such as food banks to have their voice be heard as well as amplify the collective voice of our clients. We hope that this program will educate our community and provide more insight into the lives of those we serve.
I am truly looking forward to what we have in store for the upcoming year!
What most interests you about these subjects? Is there something else that we’re missing? Want to get involved? Let YOUR voice be heard and let me know by dropping me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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!
“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.
Canada is such an amazing country, there is so much freedom and liberties we have that many countries don’t. This is why I always find it shocking when I see the statistics of people that go hungry in our country.
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The Joy of Food
This has been one incredible year. We want to celebrate YOU and all you do for people in your community with the release of our 2015/2016 Stakeholder Impact Review. Because of your support, thousands of people are able to experience the #joyoffood! In fact, almost 5 MILLION meals have been served and it wouldn’t have happened without you by our side.
Some kids love it. Some kids hate it. But it is on the way! The kids are about to go back to school for another year of learning, friendship and fun.
Personally, I loved back to school as a kid. Every year at the end of summer, I got to go to the mall with my mom to buy new clothes and supplies. We’d usually make a day of it and grab some pizza for lunch.
I met Jenna earlier this summer. She told me how she’s really excited to start grade four. Her favourite classes are science and gym class. “I can’t wait to see my friends again and tell them about all the things I did this summer!”
Her mother Trish, on the other hand, is not as excited. Her hours have been cut at work again and she is having trouble paying for Jenna’s school supplies. “Rent is so expensive – I really can’t afford to pay for extra things Jenna needs.”
Trish isn’t the only one feeling the pinch in September. Many clients that come into the food bank struggle with daily expenses. And food is often the most flexible thing in the budget. Unhealthy food tends to be a lot cheaper than fresh foods so those items tend to make it into children’s lunches.
“I always felt terrible when I couldn’t put fresh fruit or vegetables in her lunches – but those things cost so much lately.”
I’ve seen it myself when buying my groceries. Fresh produce prices have been skyrocketing; sometimes it is just easier to get the cheaper items while sacrificing nutrition.
Even though Jenna is still young, she can still tell when there isn’t enough food for a healthy lunch. “Once in a while I get two oranges in my lunch. Those are my favourite! Last year I didn’t get oranges much. Sometimes I didn’t get much to eat at all.”
This year Trish turned to the food bank, “I am always so grateful after going to the food bank. I come home with healthy items for Jenna and myself. Things like bread, cheese and meat so I can make her sandwiches for lunch. And there are even eggs so she can have scrambled eggs in the morning – though I prefer mine sunny side up.”
I’m relieved know that families in Toronto have access to these food banks. No child should go to school hungry.
Luckily, your support of North York Harvest helps us ensure that Trish can fill Jenna’s lunch bag with healthy foods each day. She can also send Jenna off to school having had a healthy breakfast so she can concentrate on her studies.