In the past three months, Daily Bread member food banks have seen visits increase to 260% compared to the same months pre-pandemic. In fact, food bank visits reached a record breaking high in May 2023, with over 270,019 total visits that month. With 1 in 6 households in Ontario being food insecure, our member agencies are seeing significant need in their respective communities, and they’ve had to adapt to continue supporting clients.
Parkdale Community Food Bank has been providing barrier-free food access to individuals facing hunger, since 2007. Pre-pandemic, Parkdale Community Food Bank had been operating out of a basement space on Queen Street West. At the time, they were able to support a shopping model, to give clients a marketplace experience where they could choose the food options best suited for their families. Once COVID-19 hit that quickly changed. The food bank began serving 6,000 to 7,000 families per month – an astonishing increase from the 1,500 families they would see prior to COVID. To meet the increase in demand and make the best use of the food bank’s limited space, that meant pivoting to a pre-packaged hamper model.
“We’ve known for a while that a new space was needed,” says Kitty Raman Costa, Executive Director, Parkdale Community Food Bank. The search itself took a year and a half. Cost was a challenge, but so was finding somewhere in the Parkdale area that wanted to lease to the food bank. Then came 263 Dunn Avenue – a former grocery store, that had the infrastructure and the space to allow Parkdale Community Food Bank to return to a shopping model.
“The goal with the new space is to make things as accessible as possible for clients,” says Shimona Patel, Operations Manager, Parkdale Community Food Bank. “We want people to feel like this is their space, and that they’re not rushed out while they’re choosing their food.” The new location makes this possible as the food bank is now able to offer drop-in and appointment slots in the new space.
Parkdale Community Food Bank held an opening celebration on July 15th, 2023
Parkdale Community Food Bank officially opened its new doors on July 19, 2023. The move also means that the team can use their old space for storage, as well as a hub for their delivery program, to continue to meet the needs of the community they serve.
Daily Bread member agencies, like Parkdale Community Food Bank, play a critical role in providing access to fresh and nutritious food and we are deeply grateful for their partnership and incredible work.
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