Trevor Neal began volunteering at Daily Bread Food Bank in 2016 as a Food Bank Support Worker. His vibrant energy and dedication to volunteering at Daily Bread set the stage for him to gain successful customer service employment.
This summer, we were lucky to have Trevor work with us at Daily Bread through the 2019 Canada Summer Youth Jobs Program, a program run by the federal government with the aim to help young people between the ages of 15 and 30 gain barrier-free access to the labour market.
Daily Bread has participated in the program since 2014, and to date, has hired a total of 28 individuals – 7 of which helped out this summer, assisting in various departments including fundraising/development, volunteer program, information and referrals, reception, and more.
A typical day for Trevor involves helping the Food Programs Coordinator supervise the on-site food bank, supporting volunteers and assisting clients who are on their journey accessing food banks across Toronto and Etobicoke. This includes ensuring their experience is as smooth and friendly as possible and acknowledging the emotional difficulties many clients face when entering a food bank for the first time.
“First time intake is often the most challenging part of visiting a food bank”, says Trevor. “It’s the part where people feel most vulnerable. They expect to have to justify their decision to come.” This is a pivotal moment to confront flawed, preconceived notions about access to food and tendencies to profile themselves or others based on cursory-level criteria.
For instance, someone may dress well or have a nice phone, however their circumstances have nevertheless led them to access a food bank – and that is enough. As Trevor states, “If you maintain the understanding that food at a food bank is already owned by the community, it flips the traditional charity model on its head.”
At Daily Bread Food Bank, we believe that access to food is a human right, and that no one should have to make the choice between food and essential necessities.
This form of social advocacy is integral to Trevor’s role working at Daily Bread. People like Trevor are vital players in actualizing rights-based principles and further translating them into tangible actions for clients they serve on a daily basis. “Operating under a rights-based approach means addressing points of intersectionality along with the complex needs an individual client faces,” says Trevor. This can mean supporting a client living with a disability that is not often accommodated, or recognizing that a client has a number of very specific needs when it comes to securing safe and affordable housing.
Trevor notes that it is often through indirect work that surprisingly has the potential to improve someone else’s life in a meaningful way. That meaning stems from addressing each facet of an issue, and looking at the big picture, no matter how complex.
From the entire team at Daily Bread, we want to thank Trevor for devoting his time and energy toward the fight against hunger in the city!