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New Year’s resolutions are very common to make at this time of year. I have definitely thought of a couple for myself, and it has probably crossed your mind as well. Most of the popular resolutions are to get out of debt, volunteer more, get fit, quit smoking or save money.
As a new member of the North York Harvest family, I was curious about our New Year’s Resolutions for a city where no one goes hungry. I sat down with our Executive Director, Ryan Noble, to chat about what is in store for North York Harvest Food Bank in 2016. These are some of the main things we will be partnering with our donors, community and agencies in 2016
Find a new home for the Lawrence Heights Food Bank
Our Lawrence Heights Community Food Bank, used to be at our old location in Lawrence Heights. We were unable to have the food bank come with us to 116 Industry Street. It needed to stay in that area to provide service to the many clients who relied on it for food support. With space in our old neighborhood difficult to find, we were able to find a home nearby that promised to be a good solution. Yet two major issues that our food bank clients face is the cost of transportation and disability. The majority of the 2,000 clients who access this food bank living in Lawrence Heights found it difficult to get there. We quickly recognized that to ensure clients would be able to access the food bank it would need to move back to the Lawrence Heights community. With the support of our staff, volunteer leaders and the Lawrence Heights community, we have been working on a solution that would provide us with an accessible space right back in the community. With the continued support of donors like you and our dedicated community, our goal is to move back within the next 6 months without interrupting service. We want to ensure that in the cold winter months ahead, everyone will be able to access the food they need.
See that the Poverty Reduction Strategy is Implemented
Recently the Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) was passed during a Toronto city council meeting. The PRS aims to eliminate poverty in Toronto by 2035 with implementations starting in 2016. The goal is to address immediate needs such as housing, transportation and food insecurity. NYH has been a big supporter of this strategy since day one and we would like to see it take shape. The only issue now is what funding will be available for this plan.
What does North York Harvest want to see addressed as soon as possible? Public space for food programming. Many people living in poverty do not have access to healthy food because of where they live. We want to be able to provide our programs in more communities, but there is a lack of public space for us to run our programs (like our issue with Lawrence Heights).
The PRS recommends increasing the number of emergency food programs such as food banks in neighbourhoods that have food insecurity and poor food access.
This would significantly help us serve over 13,000 people each month and would increase access to these programs for our clients. Click here to find out more about the Poverty Reduction Strategy.
Increase our Industrial Partnership with The Learning Enrichment Foundation (LEF)
When we moved into our new home at 116 Industry St, one of the things we were most excited about was the potential for partnerships with many of the great organizations also located here. One collaboration that we were able to implement right away was allowing students working on their forklift-driving license to use our forklifts and warehouse. This has helped them complete their training in a live warehouse thus building real work experience. As we enter 2016, we have some plans to see that partnership expand. We’re hoping to create an apprentice program for on the job training while supporting our warehouse distribution. This will ensure we can move more food through our warehouse to the clients who need it.
Increase our Food Purchasing Program
In an effort to make sure that our community has enough healthy food to eat, we have further developed our food purchasing program into the Build a Hamper Program. The goal of this program is to take our food hampers to the next level by adding more fresh and healthy food. Many of our food items come through donations from food drives or corporate donations and consist of non-perishable foods. We would like to increase our food purchasing budget so we can provide more items such as fresh vegetables, dairy, eggs, meat and milk to ensure a more balanced meal for those that access our food banks. If you would like to learn more about our Build A Hamper program, click here.
We are definitely looking forward to achieving these goals in 2016! What are your New Year’s Resolutions?
Keep in Touch this Year!!