Do you watch The Amazing Race Canada? If so, we have a special surprise that we are so incredibly excited to share with you!
North York Harvest Food Bank will be featured on an upcoming episode of The Amazing Race Canada: Heroes Edition!
As part of our incredible partnership with Dempster’s (Canada Bread), we were offered the exciting opportunity to welcome the cast and crew of the show into our warehouse to give us a hand sorting bread to be distributed to the food banks and community programs in North York.
Host Jon Montgomery and all of the teams joined us as they each came up with their own unique ideas of how to make this challenge work for them. It was an exciting day for our staff and volunteers and we hope you enjoy watching this special episode!
Don’t forget to tune in to CTV on Tuesday, August 7th at 8:00pm to catch all of the action!
Do you want to be a hero just like the Amazing Racers? We are in need of your support to provide healthy food for our neighbours more than ever during these summer months. Please donate on behalf of our URGENT Summer Campaign.
For many Toronto children, summer is a time for savory barbecues and fun-filled picnics. You yourself may be lucky enough to enjoy a holiday getaway with your friends and family this summer.
But right now families in your community need your support more than ever.
Many children from low-income families depend on food programs at their schools for lunch or breakfast. Sadly, in the summer months, these kids go without many of these important meals.
This time of year is even more difficult for working families who also have to pay for daycare (when the children are not in school).
The reality is . . . families in our community struggle even harder to put food on the table during the summer.
There are over 16,000 people who must use the food bank every month. 40% of these people are children.
Almost two thirds of the children who rely on North York Harvest Food Bank every month are under the age of 11. That means that of the 6,000 children going hungry every month – close to 4,000 children under 11 are without food.
But together we can make a huge difference in the lives of people in your community that struggle to put food on the table.
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 Income Security: A Roadmap for Change
Recently the Ontario government released a new report in an effort to deal with the issue of income security, something that affects all of us.
North York Harvest is the primary food bank for all of northern Toronto, representing more than 1/3 of the geography of the city. Each month we ensure that more than 16,000 individuals receive vital food support. Over the 30+ years our organization has been serving this community the demand for emergency food support has never been as high as it is today and we believe numbers will only continue to increase.
We are so happy to see this type of report coming out of government. This is the first report during our 30 years supporting our community that recommends major investments in and improvements to programs that affect the lives of low-income people in Ontario. The report demonstrates a commitment to a fundamentally different approach to supports and services, putting people, and their needs and rights, at the centre.
We ask you to adopt these recommendations, but, especially where OW and ODSP rates are concerned, ten years is too long to wait.
We see clearly, at our food banks and beyond that far too many Ontarians need support immediately; people are going hungry, losing their housing and suffering unnecessary health crises at this very moment because they simply do not have enough money to live a healthy and dignified life in this province.
At North York Harvest we are deeply concerned with the current state of the income security system in Ontario. 1 in 8 households in Toronto are food insecure meaning that they lack the access to the food they need to properly feed themselves or their families. Thousands of children, seniors, single parents and adults are going hungry each day in Ontario.
Food is one of the very few “flexible” costs in the lives of people on low-incomes. We know people are skipping meals, or going whole days without food, so that they can pay for housing, prescriptions and so their children can eat. This is unacceptable anywhere, but especially in a province as progressive and wealthy as ours.
The reason for this is quite clear. People cannot access the food they need because of inadequate incomes.
29% of food bank clients in Toronto are on OW and 35% are on ODSP. The fact that the majority of people we see coming through our emergency food programs are receiving social assistance clearly shows that the rates are unacceptably low.
Food banks provide an undeniably important support to thousands of people. But food banks do not replace an adequate social safety net and cannot solve the problem of food insecurity. Simply put, food bank clients will never be able to access the food they need to feed themselves and their families without sufficient incomes.
We support the vision, principles and recommendations in the Roadmap and know that, if acted upon, they would have a deep impact on the well-being of people on low-incomes in northern Toronto and would do so with dignity and respect.
We urge the province to adopt these recommendations and to do so as quickly as possible. Government must take action now to make life better for low-income people in Ontario.
Because of supporters like you, we spent 2017 working with our community to help our most vulnerable neighbours meet their food needs, and find long-term solutions to poverty and food insecurity.
Here are some of our favourite moments.
We had our first ever garden since moving to Pengarth Crt in Lawrence Heights, and were able to run multiple harvest festivals throughout the city.
A joint garden-kitchen program with youth in partnership with PACT at the Lawrence Heights site, teaching kids about the importance of fresh food and healthy eating.
We supported the first ever farmers market at the Bathurst Finch hub, and now there is a weekly good food market on site every Wednesday.
Ensuring consistent service throughout our network of partner agencies
All of our food banks and member agencies are different, but it’s important that no matter where people live in North York that they receive the same standard of service.
This year we also took on a major network wide evaluation of our 19 catchment food banks, based on our Standard of Service. Clients at each site were surveyed and the programs were assigned a score out of 5 on areas such as accessibility, quality and quantity of food, customer service etc. We hope to repeat this assessment on an annual basis.
Our AMAZING donors
As always, our donors blow us away with incredible generosity and support of their community! Young Zack is no different, in just the first grade he’s making a difference for his neighbours. This past holiday season he popped by with cans of tuna that he purchased with his gift money.
Stronger Together: Increasing Services and Impact
We worked with many community agencies to bring enhanced programming and services to our members, including:
Toronto Public Health dental bus at Oriole Food Space. This bus offered free dental care to those who otherwise would go without this necessity!
Smoking cessation workshops
Hearing tests for clients
Diabetes prevention and management programs
We launched the Community Food Works program in partnership with Toronto Public Health’s food strategy at Oriole; a program that teaches food handlers training and food skills to low income individuals. Our pilot at OFS was targeted to Arabic speaking newcomers.
A resident based advocacy and food security program
Several community kitchen programs
Healthy Food Matters! Focusing our Food Drive on Priority Items
This year we worked more intentionally with our fabulous food drive organizers to improve the quality of food we offer to our members. We asked them to hold single food item drives choosing from a list of 5 priority items: Rice, Oil, Canned Beans, Canned Seafood and Canned Tomatoes. These staples are versatile, nutrient-dense foods our network needs to maintain good health. Thanks to our incredible community who helped us answer the call for healthy food!
Leadership in Logistics
With the support from the Metcalf Foundation and The Learning Enrichment Foundation we have launched an exciting new program for individuals currently receiving Ontario Works. Aside from being a stepping stone in breaking the cycle of poverty, the program gives participants a chance to take charge of their own lives with the confidence and training to succeed in promising careers.
There’s been lots in the news recently about how best to support food banks. We’re grateful for all of the ways our community takes action against hunger, and each type of gift is essential in making sure 16,000 people each month have the food and support they need to thrive.