Jun 13, 2022

Accessing a Food Bank for the First Time: What You Need to Know

For many people accessing a food bank for the first time, ‘the unknown’ may be a cause of anxiety or fear. Not knowing what personal or financial information clients are asked to share, how the food bank works, and even feelings of shame can stand in the way of people visiting a food bank.

“The first time I went to the food bank, I didn’t know what to expect. Would there be long lines, how do I get the food, will people judge me, or would I be asked a million questions about my finances? When I got there, the staff and volunteers were very helpful and made me feel comfortable. Now, I don’t have to choose between paying rent or buying food.” John, Food Bank Client.

At Daily Bread Food Bank, our commitment to a Rights-based approach to food includes offering low-barrier service and equitable access to nutritious food. Our dedicated volunteers and staff members make every effort to make new clients feel welcomed and informed.

What to Expect When Visiting a Food Bank:

All clients must register for a client ID online or by phone at 416-230-0050 ext 1. Clients are asked to share information like family size, income and housing status. Sharing this information is optional – no one will be denied food at any Daily Bread member food bank for not providing this information. The information is not shared with any organizations outside Daily Bread’s network and is used to better understand our clients’ circumstances to advocate on their behalf.

Once registered, clients can book an appointment online or by phone at 416-230-0050 ext 1. To search for a food bank by area click here.

Upon arrival to the food bank, clients are asked to check-in using their client ID, and given a sanitized basket and a card with a number indicating the number of points allocated based on size of household.*

Once inside, our friendly staff and volunteers provide information on the points system. Many of our volunteers have accessed food banks themselves and fully understand any initial hesitation or anxiety about the process. They make the process easy!

Several of Daily Bread member food banks, including our on-site food bank at 191 New Toronto Street, are set-up to offer a shopping experience similar to a grocery store. Clients can browse a variety of snacks, pasta, fresh fruits and vegetables and a fridge with halal meats and dairy options. At the New Toronto Street Food Bank, we even have an allergen-free section, with gluten, dairy-free and nut-free products. Each item is assigned a point value and clients are able to shop for three days of food per visit, once per week.

When shopping is done, a volunteer will match up items to allotted points. It is recommended to bring shopping bags to carry groceries home.

We hope this information is helpful in providing an inside look at a food bank visit!

Food is a human right. No one should face barriers in accessing the food they need to thrive. We are committed to meeting the food needs of our neighbours experiencing hunger in a respectful and dignified environment.

If you are in need of food access, please click here.

If you would like to make a donation to support our vital food programs, please click here.

*Note, not all food banks use points for tracking the amount of food clients receive, for example, some have refillable “debit” cards or provide pre-made hampers.

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