Sometimes we don’t realize how much our actions make a difference to people we’ve never even met. But I want to take the time to share with you how your actions of supporting your local food bank have changed lives and come full circle.
Mr. and Mrs. Perez moved here with their family over a year ago fleeing a very difficult situation back home. When they arrived, they found themselves needing to go to the food bank to help them get back on their feet.
Not long ago I had a chat with them as they were spending time volunteering with us. They told me that the reason they now volunteer in the food bank is because they want to pay it forward.
“I want others to know that someone out there cares for them. Coming from the situation in our past – it can be hard to understand that there are people who actually care.”
When the Perez family came to Canada, they struggled to find jobs because they didn’t speak English – which in turn meant they struggled to put food on the table for their children. “It wasn’t until we came to the food bank that we realized people really cared, from volunteers, to staff and donors – everyone wants to make sure that no one goes hungry. In a country like Canada, no one should have to.” Mr. Perez told me.
Unfortunately, the number of food bank users in our city keeps growing. According to the latest Who’s Hungry report, there were over 900,000 visits to Toronto food banks last year. That is a 48% increase in the suburbs since 2008.
Mrs. Perez told me that on their first visit to the food bank she was surprised at the kind of options they had, “I was able to find ingredients to make recipes that I used to make for my family back home. It really helped my children as a lot of this new Canadian food was strange to them”. Personally when I see the kind of donations that come into the food bank, I am also surprised by the vast variety and selection that sometimes gets donated. I think it is great that just because a person needs to use the food bank they still are able to have a choice as to what goes into their food hamper, just as they would if going to a grocery store. It’s also important that we have choice to accommodate dietary restrictions and allergies.
It’s great know that Perez family have adjusted to Canada and glad to be a part of our community. It can be really hard picking up and changing your life. There are many worries that one can have in a situation like that – whether or not you’ll be able to have a meal shouldn’t have to be one of them.
These days Mr. Perez works at a full time job and speaks English very well. His kids go off to school each day having had a healthy breakfast and he just wants the same for people that are now where he was. Each week the Perez family go to the food bank they used to use but now they do to stock shelves and help others pick out groceries to feed their own families.
Mr. Perez loves giving back to his local food bank, “I am very grateful that I can give back to people that are just like I once was; worrying about whether their children are going to have something to eat that day or not. If not for the food bank, I might still be worrying.”
More than 16,000 people will use a food bank in your community this month. Because of you they will be able to leave knowing that their kids (and themselves) will not have to go without a nutritious meal to help them get back on their feet.
Please consider making a generous donation or volunteering to help our new neighbours get back on their feet.