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A federal housing benefit would help in reducing need for food banks

The National Housing Collaborative is recommending a housing benefit for renters in the 2017 federal budget. A housing benefit, given directly to a tenant, would help to address the lack of income which drives the need to get emergency food relief from a food bank.

The financial pressure of housing costs is the key reason for the high demand on Toronto food banks, which saw over 900,000 visits in 2016. Daily Bread’s 2016 Who’s Hungry report showed that, on average, food bank clients spend 71 per cent of their income on rent and utilities; of those who reported skipping meals to pay for something else, the most commonly cited expense was rent.

“A portable housing benefit helps to address the demand side of affordable housing by increasing tenant incomes,” said Richard Matern, Director of Research and Communications at Daily Bread Food Bank. “To maximize its effectiveness in reducing poverty, a federal housing benefit should be one piece of the affordable housing response, in addition to increasing the supply of affordable housing.”

Working on the frontlines at Daily Bread and our 130 member agencies, we see far too often how people are forced to choose between buying food or paying rent. A housing benefit would go a long way toward helping to make sure that people don’t have to make those painful choices.

Read the Daily Bread press release about the federal housing benefit.


Date Added: January 24, 2017 | Filed under: Blog, Government, In the News, Information, News, Policy, Research — Tags: , , , , , , , — Adam Paralovos @ 7:26 pm



Toronto City Budget 2017

In order to balance the upcoming city budget, city departments have been instructed to cut their budgets by 2.6 per cent. This amounts to nearly $77 million in cuts, with the possibility of cuts to programs and services that help the most vulnerable in our city.

The city is looking into cutting homeless prevention services, dental programs, and rent subsidies for day care programs, in addition to stopping expansion of student nutrition programs.

The widening gap

While Toronto has a red-hot real estate market and a very competitive business environment, it also has the highest levels of working poor and child poverty in Canada.

City budgets that cut services to the most vulnerable, and increase user fees and transit costs well above the rate of inflation, while keeping property taxes below the rate of inflation, only reinforce this widening gap between the rich and the poor.

Budget cuts to the most vulnerable don’t save money – they just transfer the cost

Cutting or limiting the expansion of programs might balance a budget in the short term, but that does not eliminate their true cost – that cost is simply transferred to individuals.

Without student nutrition programs, many parents have to make choices about giving up food so their child can have breakfast, and many children may simply go to school hungry. Without daycare subsidies, parents may have to decide that taking that job may not be worth the cost of daycare. Without dental programs, people may have to sacrifice food money in order to fix that broken tooth.

Food banks across Toronto have been seeing a strong increase in demand in the past year, particularly in the former inner suburbs where the lower income population is more likely to live. Lack of affordable housing, combined with the recent rise in food prices, have led many to come to a food bank for the first time.

Food banks feed hungry Torontonians but are being stretched to their limits

Daily Bread Food Bank is a non-profit organization that provides food and support to almost 200 food programs and 136 member agencies across Toronto. Last year alone there were over 900,000 visits to these agencies and to North York Harvest food banks.

There are many Daily Bread Food Bank member agencies operating in almost every ward throughout the city. The majority of member agencies run their food programs in local churches and community centres. Dedicated staff and volunteers in these agencies pick up, stock, and distribute food to people in their community in addition to providing other services to support people on low incomes.

Food banks in the former inner suburbs are bursting at the seams, seeing a nearly 50 per cent increase in client demand since 2008. Food programs in the city core have disappeared or are at risk of disappearing due to gentrification, redevelopment and the accompanying increases in rent.

Despite being an essential source of food for tens of thousands of Torontonians, Daily Bread and food programs operate largely outside of government and do not receive government funding. On its own, Daily Bread moves about $22 million worth of food on a budget of about $8 million, relying primarily on private donations from individuals and corporations.

It is our hope that city council considers that cost savings in the short term need to be balanced against the financial and social impact on individuals living with low income, and on the non-profits that already struggle to serve them.

Find out more about the need for food banks in Toronto. Our most recent Who’s Hungry report is here: http://www.dailybread.ca/learning-centre/whos-hungry/

Daily Bread member agencies operate in almost every ward throughout the city. Find out more about food programs in your ward here: http://www.dailybread.ca/whoshungry/ward-map.html


Date Added: January 11, 2017 | Filed under: Blog, Government, In the News, Member Agencies, News, Policy, Research — Tags: , , , , , , , — Adam Paralovos @ 1:47 pm



Keeping our trucks rolling!

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Helping to keep us moving, Barrick Gold Corporation announced a three-year, $100,000 “Heart of Gold” sponsorship of Daily Bread Food Bank’s fleet of five food delivery trucks today. Peter Sinclair, Chief Sustainability Officer, and Heart of Gold Fund committee members braved the cold to check out the trucks, then stayed to help sort food for Daily Bread’s holiday drive.

Getting truck sponsorship is crucial: Daily Bread has five trucks that deliver and pick up donated food throughout Toronto five days a week. The trucks load up with food every morning between 7:30 am and 8:30 am, leave the warehouse to deliver food to agencies, then pick up food donations, and return by 4:30 pm. Daily Bread’s trucks travel an average of 25,000 km per year, and are key to providing groceries and meals for 110,000 client visits at almost 200 food bank and meal programs across the city.

Big festive thanks to Barrick for their support!


Date Added: December 21, 2016 | Filed under: Blog, In the News, Information, News — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Adam Paralovos @ 11:59 am



Winter Holiday Meal Programs & Drop-In Hours

Click here to find out more information on meal programs and drop-in hours this winter holiday around Toronto. Special holiday meals provided by drop-ins are noted. The information on this list has been created by the Toronto Drop-In Network (TDIN) from information provided by TDIN members and community agenices.

The information is accurate as of December 20, 2016 but is subject to change. Please call ahead to confirm services, meals and hours!


Date Added: December 20, 2016 | Filed under: Blog, Holiday Drive, Information, Meal Programs, News — Tags: , , , , , , — Adam Paralovos @ 9:43 am



Daily Bread’s Holiday Drive has begun!

hpbanner-2016-holidaydriveDaily Bread’s Holiday Drive is on now and ends December 31. The money and food raised during the Holiday Drive helps Daily Bread provide food for almost 200 food programs across Toronto throughout the winter months.

Most people coming to a food bank are spending over 70 per cent of their income on housing costs, with less than $7 a day left over for everything else: warm clothing, transportation, medicine and food. Often, that’s not enough and hard choices have to be made – food on the table – or warm winter boots for your child? Over half of adults have skipped a meal in order to pay for something else, most often rent. Nutritious food becomes a luxury some people just can’t afford.

That’s where Daily Bread steps in to help. Daily Bread collects, purchases and distributes nutritious food out through a network of member agencies to those who need it most. From food banks to women’s shelters, drop-in programs or hostels for the homeless, Daily Bread helps to provide a basic necessity that 90,000 people across Toronto can’t afford. For every dollar donated to Daily Bread, Daily Bread can provide a meal to someone struggling with hunger.

Most needed food items include: dried/canned beans or lentils, rice, canned fruits and vegetables, pasta and tomato pasta sauce, peanut butter, canned fish/meat, oatmeal, baby formula/cereal and food. Food donations can be dropped off at any local fire hall.

Financial donations can be made easily and securely online by clicking the ‘Donate’ button at the top of this page.


Date Added: December 1, 2016 | Filed under: Blog, Holiday Drive, In the News, Information, News — Tags: , , — Adam Paralovos @ 12:11 pm



You can donate on the TTC

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TTC riders: during your morning commute on Monday, December 12 and Tuesday, December 13 you can donate to Daily Bread Food Bank!

The holiday season can be overwhelming for your neighbours who are struggling to provide food for their families. Your donations will enable Daily Bread to purchase fresh food like fruit, vegetables, eggs, and meat to distribute to over 129 member agencies and over 200 meal programs, as well as keep our delivery trucks on the road.

On Monday, December 12 & Tuesday, December 13, look for Daily Bread’s donation volunteers at these subway stations:
Bloor/Yonge, Bay, College, Dundas and King

We will be accepting your donations from 7:30am to 9:30am on both days.

Not a subway rider but still want to donate?
Click on the yellow “Donate Now” button above or click here.

Thank you – and happy holidays!


Date Added: November 30, 2016 | Filed under: Blog, Holiday Drive, News — Tags: , , , , , — Adam Paralovos @ 8:16 am



West Toronto Diabetes Education Program

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Peer Outreach Leaders, Alethia Barrett and Lin Lin Chou, bring diabetes awareness to Daily Bread

November is Diabetes Awareness Month. In recognition of this, the West Toronto Diabetes Education Program (WTDEP) visited Daily Bread to shed some light on the effects of diabetes, as well as, where people can go for information and support. The WTDEP is funded by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. They provide many services to the public for free of charge to help individuals understand diabetes with support, practical tools and guidance.

These services include:

•  Group education sessions

•  One-on-one consultations

•  Cooking demonstrations

•  Exercise classes

•  Doctor or self-referral

•  Other events (inquire within)

It is important that we not only recognize diabetes in the month of November, but all year round. Please spread the word and help raise awareness!

The West Toronto Diabetes Education Program is a program of LAMP Community Health Centre. For more information please click here: www.lampchc.org/diabetes


Date Added: November 27, 2016 | Filed under: Blog, Information, News — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Adam Paralovos @ 9:13 am



Food security and the “Big Four”

By: Haiat Iman, Research and Survey Coordinator

After Daily Bread Food Bank released the 2016 Who’s Hungry report, Daily Bread held informal focus groups with food bank clients. This two-part series describes clients’ day-to-day experience of food insecurity and their survival strategies. Read the second blog post in this series here.

“If you don’t have cooking facilities or can’t use your kitchen for whatever reason, you only buy foods that you can store in your room.” – Food bank client

In their article “The “Welfare Diet” 20 years later: The growing nutrition crisis for Ontario’s poorest people” co-authors John Stapleton, a board member of Daily Bread, and Jamille Clarke-Darshanand present various theories that explain why people on low income don’t have healthier diets.

One factor is having access to what Stapleton calls the Big Four: storage, cooking, refrigeration and freezing facilities. The presence or absence of the Big Four affect the food that people on low incomes can regularly – and safely – eat.

What if you don’t have food storage?
Daily Bread Food Bank’s focus group participants reported that in homes where kitchens are shared (such as rooming houses or subsidized housing), appliances and food are at risk of being stolen, so tenants keep food in their rooms. This not only limits how much they can keep and refrigerate at one time, but also dictates what they are able to bring home from the food bank or the grocery store.

What if you don’t have anywhere to cook?
Focus group participants who have nowhere to heat up food report that they will drink a can of soup cold. Some clients also reported that they don’t buy or take home canned foods such as soups or tuna from the grocery stores or food banks because they do not own or have access to a can opener.

What if you don’t have reliable refrigeration and freezing facilities?
One client who lives in a rooming house reported that he doesn’t use the kitchen to store or cook his food. Instead, he uses a mini bar fridge which he keeps in his room, and shops for items that he knows he can fit into it. The bar fridge also didn’t keep milk cold enough so it went bad quickly. Currently, he has access to a freezer so he buys three bags of milk, and stores two in the freezer, so if one bag of milk goes bad, it’s only a partial loss. A smaller carton of milk would fit in his fridge but is less economical.

Without access to proper refrigeration facilities he isn’t able to purchase fresh produce, and he is limited in how much food he can buy due to the limited space in his fridge. He chooses to purchase foods that don’t require refrigeration, stocking up on canned soup because it is easy to store and prepare. He heats it up on a hot plate which he also keeps in his room.

Final thoughts
“Without secure housing, there is nowhere to store food safely and protect it from theft. In public housing, appliances break down regularly and take a long time to get fixed. Hydro costs are very high, and are often exacerbated by monthly interest on unpaid bills. Without access to the big four, it is difficult for the poor to consume a healthy diet.“

–from The “Welfare Diet” 20 years later: The growing nutrition crisis for Ontario’s poorest people


Date Added: November 15, 2016 | Filed under: Blog, Information, News, Policy — Tags: , , , , , — Adam Paralovos @ 10:48 am



How food bank clients stretch their food resources

By: Haiat Iman, Research and Survey Coordinator

After Daily Bread Food Bank released the 2016 Who’s Hungry report, Daily Bread held informal focus groups with food bank clients. This two-part series describes clients’ day-to-day experience of food insecurity and their survival strategies. Read the first blog post in this series here.

Hunger has become a distressing reality for many families in Toronto. The number of people reliant on food banks as a source of food has reached alarming heights and is still rising, with a 13% increase in food bank visits since 2008.

According to the 2016 Who’s Hungry report, the average income of a food bank client is $750 per month, with at least 71% of their incomes spent on rent and utilities. On average, once rent and utilities were paid, food bank clients had $7.09 left over for any additional expenses, including food.

Food banks are also struggling: declines in donations and increases in a need for food aid challenge food banks’ ability to assist all those who seek their services. People struggling with hunger are forced to be resourceful in their abilities to stretch their dollars and make their food supply last.

Focus group participants reported numerous ways in which they stretch their limited food resources when they do not have the means to purchase additional food.

    • Those who have no money either do without a meal or find organizations that offer meal programs – but to exercise the latter option, however, requires that one be mobile: they must have access to transportation to get to these locations or be healthy enough to walk there.

    • Some focus group participants volunteer at food banks to get extra food.

    • Many respondents reported that they ration their meals, water down their soups, or try to stay full on liquids.

    • Some food bank clients say they have condensed milk and a few bags of tea steeping all day on the stove for anyone to drink in order to stay full.

    • Some reported watering down juice to make it last longer.

    • Some pooled their resources with others who struggle with hunger and shared a meal together.

Daily Bread Food Bank’s annual Who’s Hungry report offers detailed statistics and analysis about the impact of food insecurity in Toronto.

To read the most recent report, go to: http://www.dailybread.ca/whoshungry/


Date Added: | Filed under: Blog, News, Policy — Tags: , , , , , — Adam Paralovos @ 10:48 am



CP Holiday Train coming to Toronto!

Every year, the CP Holiday Train travels to communities all across North America – and all for a good cause! Decked out in festive lights, the train will arrive in Toronto at The Lambton Yard on 750 Runnymede Road on November 28 at 8 p.m. The CP Holiday Train raises money, food and awareness for local food banks like Daily Bread Food Bank and guests are asked to bring food or fund donations to support their community. All are welcome to this amazing event to cozy up by the fire while sipping on hot chocolate and coffee and enjoying entertainment all night long, with CP hosting Devin Cuddy and Kelly Prescott on stage. Santa will be greeting guests all evening and handing out candy to children. All contributions will be going to Daily Bread Food Bank.

Daily Bread Food Bank is a registered charity that is fighting hunger in our communities. Every year thousands of people across Toronto rely on food banks. A distribution hub, Daily Bread provides food and support to almost 200 food programs across Toronto and is the largest provider of food relief in the GTA. To learn more, please visit dailybread.ca.


Date Added: | Filed under: Blog, Holiday Drive, Information, News — Tags: , , , , , , — Adam Paralovos @ 8:25 am



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