Mar 3, 2023

How do Daily Bread and its member agencies work together?

Daily Bread food programs saw a record 209,773 client visits in January 2023 – nearly three and a half times pre-COVID numbers. Thanks to the dedicated staff and volunteers at the 128 member agencies and 193 meal programs that make up Daily Bread’s network, we were able to meet that staggering need. From food banks to prenatal programs, together, we provide dignified, low-barrier food access to individuals and families experiencing food insecurity in communities across Toronto.

By partnering with established agencies that are deeply rooted in the community, we can best facilitate food access for vulnerable populations. This pre-existing level of community engagement better enables our agencies to ensure that seniors, adults and children living in the most underserved areas have a place to turn for food.

Often, this innate understanding of their client base coupled with the ingenuity of member agencies creates opportunities to strategically provide food access that would not have existed otherwise.

“During COVID, we had to get inventive if we were going to continue meeting our clients’ needs while adhering to lockdown safety measures,” said Ainsley Chapman, Executive Director for downtown Toronto’s Evangel Hall Mission. “We came up with the idea of a walk-up takeout window and, with the support from Daily Bread, we were able to serve over 200 warm meals a day, where other organizations had been forced to shut down.”

At the core of these resources is the fresh produce, shelf-stable foods and prepared soups and casseroles that Daily Bread provides its member agencies. In 2022, our warehouse staff and volunteers distributed 18.6 million pounds of food and our kitchen team cooked over 157,000 meals to help our member agencies provide 3.1 days’ worth of food per week to each client.

But eliminating food insecurity doesn’t happen by providing access to food alone. Our Programs and Services team works closely with our member agencies to help build capacity and hone the skills needed to empower clients and realize their right to food. Agency staff, volunteers and board members can take part in a robust slate of Daily Bread training programs, including classes on safe food handling, anti-oppression and crisis intervention.

Our member agencies also learn from each other through the recent introduction of Daily Bread’s Neighbourhood Action Networks (NAN), a virtual program connecting agencies with one another so they can pool resources and share knowledge. Using NAN, member agencies trade fresh produce or much-needed PPE and share knowledge around advocacy and best practices.

When ACSA Community Food Centre was running low on milk, Souraya Awad knew she could turn to her network through NAN to ensure her clients would continue to have access to a staple food.“I feel like as if I have support,” Souraya said. “You need something, you can ask this group. Everyone is very helpful.”

The critical role our member agencies play in providing access to fresh, nutritious food for all is more evident than ever before.  Donate today to support our member agencies and allow them to continue meeting the emergency food needs of the tens of thousands of individuals and families across our city living with food insecurity.

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