At the onset of the pandemic, the disruption caused by lockdowns forced many non-profit organizations to abruptly reduce, and in some cases cease operations, forcing them to quickly develop innovative new ways to continue meeting the needs of their clients.
Things were no different for Breakaway Community Services, a multi-functional substance use support and treatment program and Daily Bread member agency. With services ranging from substance use support for LGBTQIA2S+ youth through to outreach initiatives for families dealing with substance use concerns, much of their work centred around in-person connection.
Treatment and support can only go so far when clients are facing hunger and food insecurity.
With its Daily Bread supported meal program no longer operable under the newly implemented COVID restrictions, staff corralled their resources to ensure their clients were still able to get the nutritious food they needed.
Where clients would formerly commune at a Breakaway satellite location over a warm meal with fellow clients and counselors, a meal delivery program was quickly instituted. Using personal vehicles, setting out on foot and in one case loading up a bicycle, staff pulled out all stops to deliver prepared meals directly to clients’ front doorsteps.
As clients continued to bear the brunt of the pandemic, grocery prices surged to an all-time high, placing an even greater strain on an already vulnerable client base. “The population we serve is largely marginalized, many are on ODSP or Ontario Works and are on a limited budget. Food is the one cost that is flexible for them, and with rising prices, they can’t afford much” stated Client Support Worker, Subor Momand.
With clients at greater risk, Breakaway saw an opportunity to further its partnership with Daily Bread. A small food bank, receiving bi-weekly shipments of fresh fruits and vegetables, and non-perishable food items was opened to clients. No longer having to worry where their next meal will come from, clients are able to focus on getting the support they need.
Daily Bread supports 126 member agencies and 189 food programs across Toronto. These agencies, like Breakaway, provide a wide range of programs from safe shelter for the unhoused to counselling services for the LGBTQAI2S+ community.
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