As students return to campuses everywhere, many are on even tighter budgets than usual. In some cases students didn’t have the same job opportunities during the summer months, making it even more challenging when they return to school. As a result, some of our busiest member agencies operate on university and college campuses.
Over the past year, many of us have enjoyed ordering takeout from our favourite restaurants and dining in the comfort of our homes. These days the simple luxury of ordering takeout after a long week, may not be in the budget for many of our friends and neighbours. As a result of these circumstances, DoorDash recognized the need for additional support in communities nationwide, and has partnered with a number of organizations nationwide to make takeout delivery easier for families and individuals nationwide.
At North York Harvest, DoorDash’s donation of $10,000 worth of gift cards was distributed to Seneca College students in September. For budget-conscious students, having access to a $25 DoorDash gift card, was a wonderful way to give a healthy and hopeful kickstart to the upcoming school year.
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Operating a food bank has many unique challenges, many of which has been further amplified because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Once COVID hit, North York Harvest was put into a position to change how business was done,” says Dianna Stapleton, volunteer and board chair at Weston Area Emergency Support (WAES). Stapleton has worked in the food security industry for more than 30 years, with much of her time spent volunteering with WAES which means she understands the unique needs of small food banks. At the beginning of the pandemic, WAES would not have been able to keep its doors open and support families, and individuals in need had it not been for North York Harvest. “We spent a lot of time with the team at North York Harvest trying to figure out how to get food so that we could assist the community,” she says. It was through this support that enabled WAES to access alternative avenues for food and donations that would not have been possible for a small organization.“Sometimes we get into a routine and may not think there’s a better or different way to do things,” she explains. “Having the other members in North York Harvest’s Agency Network to tap into their expertise, is one of the biggest benefits.” Without the traditional networking opportunities that many other types of businesses have, Stapleton and her colleagues at WAES value the regular meetings with other professionals in the food security space for the chance to also share experience and celebrate shared success. As we all work towards basic income that allows for affordable housing and accessible food many would agree with Stapleton, “Food banks are an emergency room in a hospital, you don’t want to use it but you are glad when it is there.” At our core, it’s important for community member to not feel a stigma around needing their support.
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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.
Family, friends and relaxation, that’s what summer should be all about. But for many families in our community, summer adds a significant stress as they grapple with additional food costs. In fact, summer is the time of year when our community’s food needs are at a peak, yet we receive our lowest level of donations. With your support, we can continue helping nourish families who turn to North York Harvest to meet their food needs.
During the pandemic you have helped make the Hamper Hero Virtual Food Drive a major success! While in-person food drives were not possible, the generous support North York Harvest received from families, schools and community groups was incredible. As we head into the summer months, the positive response continues with an increasing number of community members participating in virtual food drives. Our community continues to need your support, and we’re pleased to be able to help families with your contributions.
Goal Setting: While it may seem simple, setting a fundraising target creates excitement for everyone who donates. Consider setting a reward for meeting your target to get everyone even more engaged.
Make It Special: Select a date and host a kick-off event that gets everyone on board. Consider engaging your network by sharing a video about the work that North York Harvest does.
Give Regular Reminders: Keep your group updated on the success of your Virtual Food Drive by sharing via social media platforms. Encourage everyone who has contributed to share on their social media channels and remember to tag North York Harvest too!
North York Harvest Food Bank’s approach to the COVID-19 pandemic is guided by our organizational responsibilities to workplace health and safety and our commitment to human rights. Just as we believe that all community members have a right to food, we believe that access to health care resources should be provided free from discrimination. Sadly, our collective experience with COVID-19 demonstrates that this is not the case. Community consultations conducted by Toronto Public Health “stated that COVID-19 has laid bare and exacerbated long-standing systemic inequities related to poverty, racism and other forms of discrimination” and that “inequitable access to the social determinants of health has provided favourable conditions for COVID-19 to spread in populations already marginalized by existing inequities, particularly Indigenous, Black, racialized and low-income communities”.To state it bluntly, our community members are at disproportionate risk of contracting COVID-19 but not as likely to be able to access appropriate protections.
As an organization, we have spared no expense to make our workplaces and food spaces safe, to protect the health of our workers and to maximize access to emergency food assistance in our community. We have committed to use guidance from public health experts as a minimum operating standard for all of our work. This approach extends to vaccines. While vaccinations provide individual protections from COVID-19, the primary goal of a vaccination campaign is to establish “herd immunity” whereby the majority of the population is immunized and COVID-19 can no longer spread. Our community will not be safe until this threshold is met. As a result, North York Harvest Food Bank joins with Toronto Public Health to strongly encourage all Torontonians to get vaccinated if they are eligible to do so. While we acknowledge that vaccination is an individual choice and that people may have valid reasons for not receiving a vaccination, we strongly believe that choosing to be vaccinated is an important way that all eligible Torontonians can support our work and our community.
North York Harvest Food Bank will facilitate COVID-19 vaccinations in any way that we can. This includes using our food spaces to provide information and opportunities for vaccinations to our community members.
The availability of safe and effective vaccines provides us with a powerful tool to combat COVID-19. I thank you for your commitment as we lend our support to local vaccination campaigns.
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Since 2012, Give 30 has been making a difference in communities nationwide, the United States and Australia. This grassroots movement was inspired by the Muslim faith’s Ramadan which takes place from April 13 until May 12, 2021. Regardless of of faith or background, everyone is encouraged to support partnering community organizations to fight hunger and food insecurity in our communities. This year, the campaign runs until August 31, which enables donors to extend their participation past the traditional 30-day campaign period. As a participating member agency, when you make a donation to Give 30 through North York Harvest Food Bank, your donation directly impacts the lives of families and individuals right here in your local community. By supporting one another, at times when we all need it most, we can each make a difference, together.
Find out more about the values, and vision of Give 30 along how this important initiative began with a singular idea and inspiration. Interested in learning how you can connect with others who are also taking part in this global movement? Become a Give 30 Fan on Facebook and follow Give 30 on Twitter.
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.