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ciscoIs your company thinking of stepping up its charitable involvement? It might be time to think beyond the “one company-one charity” model and explore a matching gifts program.

In its broadest terms, a matching gifts program does what it says on the tin: the company matches the charitable donations – of money, time or both – that are made by its employees.

Cisco Canada has been offering a matching gift program to its employees since 1996, and has recently launched its Time2Give and Be The Bridge programs.

Willa Black is Cisco Canada’s Vice President, Corporate Affairs, and she believes that Cisco’s matching programs have thrived because they empower employees with choice, and equally important, they are aligned with Cisco’s core competence.

“Cisco is a very “Get to it” culture, and collaboration and teamwork are a very natural fit for us,” she says. “We’re reinforcing the message that the tools we have at our disposal are being used to make positive impact in communities: like bringing classroom experiences to Indigenous communities in our Connected North program, for example, or donating the technology that we used to run the Pan Am games to nonprofits.”

She spoke to us recently about Cisco Canada’s matching gift programs.

Willa Black: When I think about the power of our matching program what stands out is that we know we have great employees and we want to amplify their impact. The first way we do that is by giving them the freedom to spend time investing in their own communities.

In our Time2Give program full-time employees can take up to five days off work, fully paid, to volunteer in the activity of their choice. For every hour that an employee commits, we donate $10, up to $1,000.
(Note: all dollar amounts are USD.)

We have 1,700 employees in Canada, and in 2016, they gave 3,602 volunteer hours – we think that’s an excellent result.

Then there’s Cisco’s Be the Bridge program which matches cash donations up to $10,000 during the holiday season. In 2016, we matched $111,000 in donations.

How do you decide which charities to include in the matching program?
Individual employees nominate a charity or non-profit in the Cisco matching system. Then the charity gets vetted, and if they meet our requirements they are processed in the system and employees’ donations are eligible for matching. We have a civic council that determines the employee engagement activities we do. We get on a call once a month; we talk to charities in person; and we’re constantly keeping our fingers on the pulse of what employees think is meaningful. This culture of giving back is woven into our strategic plan: we have a seat at the table with the strategic team. It makes employees feel really proud about what they do and where they work.

What would you suggest to companies that are considering starting their own matching program?
You have to be creative about the different ways you can support employees: maybe you can give them a paid day off or sponsor a community event. Organizations have to focus on their core competence and do what works for their culture.

What have the benefits been to your company overall?
We were ranked by Aon Hewitt as the Number 1 best employer in Canada for several years, and giving back and volunteerism are key to this, because it engages employees and gives them a sense of pride. It’s important for people to know it’s more than dollars and cents.

Cisco Canada has supported Daily Bread Food Bank since 2000 – including organizing in-office food and fund drives to gathering hundreds of volunteers to assemble Toronto Star Santa Hampers each holiday season. Cisco’s matching program has granted Daily Bread over $35,000 to match the volunteer efforts of hundreds of Cisco employees.

Further reading:

4 reasons why your company needs a matching gift program

How to start an employee donation matching program

Date Added: March 6, 2017 | Comments Off on Re-thinking CSR: should you match your employees’ generosity? | Filed under: Blog,Information,News — Tags: , , , — Adam Paralovos @ 3:17 pm

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 | Comments Off on A federal housing benefit would help in reducing need for food banks | 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:

Daily Bread member agencies operate in almost every ward throughout the city. Find out more about food programs in your ward here:

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

Keeping our trucks rolling!


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 | Comments Off on Keeping our trucks rolling! | 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 | Comments Off on Winter Holiday Meal Programs & Drop-In Hours | 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 | Comments Off on Daily Bread’s Holiday Drive has begun! | Filed under: Blog,Holiday Drive,In the News,Information,News — Tags: , , — Adam Paralovos @ 12:11 pm

You can donate on the TTC


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 | Comments Off on You can donate on the TTC | Filed under: Blog,Holiday Drive,News — Tags: , , , , , — Adam Paralovos @ 8:16 am

West Toronto Diabetes Education Program


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:

Date Added: November 27, 2016 | Comments Off on West Toronto Diabetes Education Program | 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 | Comments Off on Food security and the “Big Four” | 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.

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:

Date Added: | Comments Off on How food bank clients stretch their food resources | Filed under: Blog,News,Policy — Tags: , , , , , — Adam Paralovos @ 10:48 am

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