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Because hunger doesn't wait for policy change.





Toronto City Budget 2018: More access, more equity

“We need to figure out a way to fund agencies to ensure that people have the nourishment that they need…It’s a shame that this is something that is needed, but it is. And we need to do our best as a city to find space for them.” Councillor Mike Layton (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina) – Article from the Toronto Star, Tues. Jan 2, 2018

In its pre-budget submission to the City, the Toronto Food Policy Council made several recommendations to be considered in the 2018 Poverty Reduction Strategy work plan, including requesting the availability for space for a range of food related programming1.

Daily Bread Food Bank echoes this recommendation, in particular the recommendation to enable access to space in Toronto Community Housing properties for food banks and other food programming available to the wider community.

In many cases, accessing suitable space from which to distribute food can be as challenging as keeping up with the demand for food. In its commitment to its Poverty Reduction Strategy and creating a more fair and equitable city, the City of Toronto can use the 2018 budget as a recognition of the rapidly growing numbers of people struggling with hunger by providing access to its surplus space from which to run community led food programs such as food banks, at little or no extra cost to the city.

Demand for food banks in Toronto is growing rapidly, but available spaces from which to operate them are shrinking

From April 2016 to March 2017, there were a total of 990,970 client visits to Daily Bread Food Bank and North York Harvest Food Bank member agencies. This is the highest annual client visit number in Toronto since 2010, when the effects of the 2008 recession hit Torontonians with full force. This is 9 per cent higher than 2016, and 24 per cent higher than 2008.

The surge in demand has not only affected food banks’ ability to provide food, but in some cases their ability to accommodate growing numbers of clients in program spaces. Last year, 22 per cent of Daily Bread agencies reported they had difficulty in providing adequate waiting room space to accommodate people accessing the program.

The majority of Daily Bread’s 130 member agencies run their food programs in local churches and community centres, and the space available to accommodate clients is varied: some have large open spaces in churches, while others have their clients line in hallways, stairwells or outside. Challenges related to space include property maintenance and accessibility issues in the case of church-run programs, and lack of space and rent increases for some community centres. As Toronto continues to gentrify and available space with which to run food programs becomes more expensive and precarious, more neighbourhood food banks across the city will struggle accommodating clients in the future as the need continues to grow.

When does access to space for food programs in Toronto become an equity issue? The Scarborough story

The most recent census data shows that census tracts with the highest concentrations of people living with low income, as well as highest percentages of visible minorities, are in the northern and outer reaches of the city. Coincidentally, those are also the areas where there are not enough food banks to keep up with the demand; existing food banks are also located so far apart many clients can`t afford transportation to get to them. Additionally, the spaces in which these programs operate are themselves vulnerable to rapidly rising rent costs.

For Daily Bread member agencies, the area of the city where the issue of space is of particular concern is Scarborough.

“Currently we do not pay rent, however [the housing provider] is considering implementing a rent or utility cost for commercial tenants like us. We have significantly outgrown this space but with no rent n our budget, we are unable to move to a more suitable location.” Food bank in Scarborough

A hot real estate market is making it increasingly difficult for some food programs to either find or maintain a suitable space from which to operate. While some food programs are run by faith-based groups who have space provided free of charge by the sponsoring organization, others, such as those located in larger community centres or public housing units, have to pay for the space. This is especially an issue in north and east Scarborough which, compared to the city core, have less “’faith-based infrastructure” such as church space, which means food programs have to find other space that they can afford.

Food banks in Toronto, including those operated by multiservice centres, do not receive government funding and mostly rely on private donations. As affordable space in Toronto becomes more challenging to find, many food banks, including those in Scarborough, will be in an increasingly vulnerable position to maintain their operations, despite rapidly increasing need.

Of the seven wards in Scarborough that have Daily Bread member agency food banks:

  • Five have shown increases of over 10 per cent in client visits in the last year alone;
  • Wards 39 and 40, both in the Agincourt area of north Scarborough, have seen increases of over 70 per cent, the highest increases in the city.

Food banks in Scarborough report seeing high numbers of recent newcomers, including convention refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Nigeria. Many are paying on average 82 per cent of their income on rent and utilities, and have very little left over for essentials like food.

And it’s not just food banks that struggle to find or maintain space to operate in these areas. Other kinds of food-related programming that can be essential tools of community development for low income or newcomer communities, such as urban farming or community kitchens, also face ongoing roadblocks in finding space to run programs.

Many would agree that being able to access food is a human right. However lack of adequate income supports, alongside diminishing space from which to help low income communities, mean that this right is becoming increasingly out of reach for too many.

Help create a more equitable city: enable food banks to have more access to city-owned space.

By identifying and facilitating access to space of City owned properties for food access, the City can demonstrate its commitment to its Poverty Reduction Strategy, as well as equity and human rights.

Link to Daily Bread’s Who’s Hungry Report:
Link to ward map of Daily Bread agencies:

1 “That City staff identify spaces for use by community-led initiatives (both growing spaces, and office, program and cooking spaces), based on current inventories of surplus space, and that staff focus on NIAs in identifying these spaces.” Letter from the Toronto Food Policy Council to the Executive Committee of Toronto City Council, November 27, 2017.

Date Added: January 19, 2018 | Filed under: Blog, Government, In the News, Information, Member Agencies, News, Research — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Adam Paralovos @ 2:07 pm

Toronto City Budget 2017

In order to balance the upcoming city budget, city departments have been instructed to cut their budgets by 2.6 per cent. This amounts to nearly $77 million in cuts, with the possibility of cuts to programs and services that help the most vulnerable in our city.

The city is looking into cutting homeless prevention services, dental programs, and rent subsidies for day care programs, in addition to stopping expansion of student nutrition programs.

The widening gap

While Toronto has a red-hot real estate market and a very competitive business environment, it also has the highest levels of working poor and child poverty in Canada.

City budgets that cut services to the most vulnerable, and increase user fees and transit costs well above the rate of inflation, while keeping property taxes below the rate of inflation, only reinforce this widening gap between the rich and the poor.

Budget cuts to the most vulnerable don’t save money – they just transfer the cost

Cutting or limiting the expansion of programs might balance a budget in the short term, but that does not eliminate their true cost – that cost is simply transferred to individuals.

Without student nutrition programs, many parents have to make choices about giving up food so their child can have breakfast, and many children may simply go to school hungry. Without daycare subsidies, parents may have to decide that taking that job may not be worth the cost of daycare. Without dental programs, people may have to sacrifice food money in order to fix that broken tooth.

Food banks across Toronto have been seeing a strong increase in demand in the past year, particularly in the former inner suburbs where the lower income population is more likely to live. Lack of affordable housing, combined with the recent rise in food prices, have led many to come to a food bank for the first time.

Food banks feed hungry Torontonians but are being stretched to their limits

Daily Bread Food Bank is a non-profit organization that provides food and support to almost 200 food programs and 136 member agencies across Toronto. Last year alone there were over 900,000 visits to these agencies and to North York Harvest food banks.

There are many Daily Bread Food Bank member agencies operating in almost every ward throughout the city. The majority of member agencies run their food programs in local churches and community centres. Dedicated staff and volunteers in these agencies pick up, stock, and distribute food to people in their community in addition to providing other services to support people on low incomes.

Food banks in the former inner suburbs are bursting at the seams, seeing a nearly 50 per cent increase in client demand since 2008. Food programs in the city core have disappeared or are at risk of disappearing due to gentrification, redevelopment and the accompanying increases in rent.

Despite being an essential source of food for tens of thousands of Torontonians, Daily Bread and food programs operate largely outside of government and do not receive government funding. On its own, Daily Bread moves about $22 million worth of food on a budget of about $8 million, relying primarily on private donations from individuals and corporations.

It is our hope that city council considers that cost savings in the short term need to be balanced against the financial and social impact on individuals living with low income, and on the non-profits that already struggle to serve them.

Find out more about the need for food banks in Toronto. Our most recent Who’s Hungry report is here:

Daily Bread member agencies operate in almost every ward throughout the city. Find out more about food programs in your ward here:

Date Added: January 11, 2017 | Filed under: Blog, Government, In the News, Member Agencies, News, Policy, Research — Tags: , , , , , , , — Adam Paralovos @ 1:47 pm

Daily Bread Food Bank announces new food programs in Etobicoke and Scarborough

As Daily Bread’s Spring Drive starts, Executive Director Gail Nyberg announced new community partners who are working with Daily Bread to expand much-needed food programs in Etobicoke and Scarborough.

Where poverty is moving in Toronto

Daily Bread’s Who’s Hungry report identified a drastic shift in where poverty is moving in Toronto. Priced out of the downtown core, people on low incomes are being pushed to the inner suburbs of Scarborough, North York and Etobicoke. Rent in these areas may be slightly more affordable but there is also a lack of social services, including food programs, to support people on low incomes. Food bank visits in these areas have risen by 45 per cent since 2008, and the few food programs that are available are stretched to their limits.

New food programs in Etobicoke and Scarborough

In response, Daily Bread has been working with a number of community organizations to develop new food programs in these under-served areas. In early September, the doors of Toronto West Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church Food Bank opened in north Etobicoke. Initially serving 32 households, they now serve over 75 households each week. Daily Bread is also partnering with Canadian South Asian Growth and Support Services and Working Women Community Centre to open a new food bank in Scarborough, starting in June.

Hunger is about more than food

“At Daily Bread, we believe that food is the most basic need of all,” said Gail Nyberg, Daily Bread’s executive director. “But, as a community we need to ask why people in this city can’t afford to feed themselves and their children. And we need to look to our city government, the Ontario government and the federal government, and ask why they think it’s acceptable that a third of people coming to a food bank are children.”

Daily Bread’s Spring Drive

Donations to Daily Bread’s Spring Drive will allow Daily Bread to partner with more organizations to provide nutritious food to those people who are struggling with hunger. The Spring Drive ends April 1, with goals of $225,000 and 150,000 pounds of food. Financial donations can be made easily and securely online at or by mailing a cheque to Daily Bread Food Bank, 191 New Toronto St., Toronto, Ontario, M8V 2E7. Non-perishable food donations can be dropped off at any local fire hall.

Date Added: March 11, 2016 | Filed under: Blog, Member Agencies, News, Spring Drive — Tags: , , — Anderson @ 1:15 pm

Training together

Food banks and meal programs from across Toronto come together for workshops on disability issues

Daily Bread Food Bank, North York Harvest Food Bank (NYHFB) and Second Harvest provide food for hundreds of programs across Toronto. Together, they also jointly organize a free full-day training event IMG_6383_lrfor the staff and volunteers that coordinate these food programs.

“This was my first Joint Agency Training Workshop, and it was wonderful to see so many agency staff and volunteers connecting with like-minded people from across the city,” said NYHFB’s Rowena Power, one of the co-organizers. “So often we work in isolation, so it’s really positive to feel like we are all part of something bigger.”

Lucky number 13
The 13th Joint Agency Training Workshop focused on disability issues, providing workshops in key areas such as changes to the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), mental health awareness and food program accessibility for those with both invisible and visible disabilities. Over 64 agencies came together to share knowledge and learn more about an issue that affects many of those coming to food banks and meal programs. Twenty-eight per cent of people coming to a food bank are on ODSP, and 49 per cent IMG_6416_lrof food bank clients have a disability.

The cost of living with a disability
Most people can’t live on ODSP alone – that’s why they are coming to food banks. A final panel discussion looked at this issue in depth: what political and policy trends are affecting people on ODSP, as well as those living with a disability or physical illness? What can agencies do to help?
John Stapleton, a Daily Bread board member who is part of Open Policy Ontario, spoke about how challenging a situation it can be, with nine different disability benefits possible. ODSP can be an extremely isolating program, with the entire process wrapped up in red tape. What can agencies do to help?

Helping people find their voice
Because it’s so isolating, many people coming to a food bank or meal program find that their local food IMG_6435_lrprogram often becomes so much more than just a place where they can access food. A food bank client from a recent survey said that her local food bank was also “her friends, her community, her restaurant and her library.” Building on that community that is already there, Stapleton suggested that helping people find their own voice is one of the biggest ways agencies can help.

I’m not the only one
Carolyn Bierma, one of the workshop organizers from Daily Bread, agrees that paving the way for people to self-advocate is valuable.
“Some people are natural-born advocates. But the reality for many others is that poverty grinds down that part of their self-worth and mental health until they have nothing left,” said Carolyn. “Many clients have expressed how much of a challenge it was for them to get to that place where you realize you’re not the only one struggling, and you start to come out of that isolation and learn some self-compassion…it is a struggle to realize ‘Hey, I’m in this situation NOT because there is something fundamentally wrong with me but because there is something fundamentally wrong with the system; it doesn’t help people the way it’s supposed to.’


Date Added: May 29, 2015 | Filed under: Blog, Member Agencies, News — Tags: , , , — Anderson @ 1:17 pm

Poverty Reduction and Food Security: A Conversation

Daily Bread submits report on improving access to food for City of Toronto Poverty Reduction Strategy as part of community consultations

In April 2014 City Council directed the development of a City of Toronto Poverty Reduction Strategy. In the City’s first round of consultations for its Poverty Reduction Strategy, food banks were discussed frequently when it came to suggested actions on improving access to food.

The City is currently wrapping up its second phase of consultation, which sought input in order to identify top priorities and principles, as well as focused “deep dives” on recommendations from specific areas (such as affordable housing, child care, support for quality nutrition for all). With a group of representatives from some of Daily Bread’s member agencies, Daily Bread staff facilitated and took part in a group discussion exploring some of the recommendations made in this first round of consultations, identifying some key recommendations in order to fight hunger and poverty in Toronto in both the short and long term.

Income and housing: foundational to addressing food insecurity

Despite the high number of people coming to food banks in the city, food programs only meet a fraction of the level of need. Recent research from Valerie Tarasuk, a professor at the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto, found that just over 20 per cent of low-income residents had accessed a food bank, and 5 per cent or less accessed community kitchens and community gardens.[1] While very important and worthy initiatives for other reasons, they have proven unable to meet the needs of Torontonians facing hunger on the scale that is required.

As such, discussion participants felt that housing and income were foundational areas to address in order to address food insecurity. Without sufficiently addressing those two areas, little progress will be made on eliminating hunger and poverty in our city. As many issues around income security that drive food bank use rest outside the scope of the city’s responsibility, participants felt that the city can and should play a stronger, more visible role in advocating for these issues to be addressed at the provincial and federal level.

Suggested actions to improve food access: Looking closer

While these areas are foundational to reducing poverty and hunger, discussion participants felt that the City could help increase food security for people with low income in three key areas:

  • Helping increase the availability of space to run food banks, as the needed facilities to run programs such as food banks are disappearing;
  • Making a granting process available for food banks that help capital and core funding requirements for essential equipment like large freezers, so nutritious, perishable food can be adequately stored; and,
  • Through partnership with Toronto Public Health, helping to fund the bulk purchase of key dietary items that are seen as critical in order for households to have a nutritious diet, and distributed through the food bank network.

Moving forward

As the City proceeds with its Poverty Reduction Strategy, there is much potential for progress to be made that improves the quality of life for all its citizens. Daily Bread, its vast agency network that helps feed Toronto, and the individuals who access their services, have a great deal of knowledge and experience that can help continue to inform this strategy as it moves forward. With that, the City of Toronto can help Daily Bread, along with its member agencies, in its mission to end poverty and hunger in our communities.

Click here to download and read Daily Bread’s full submission to the City of Toronto’s Poverty Reduction Strategy consultations – Poverty Reduction and Food Security: A Conversation.

[1] S Kirkpatrick, V Tarasuk. Food insecurity and participation in community food programs among low-income Toronto families. Canadian Journal of Public Health 2009; 100(2): 135-139.

Date Added: May 21, 2015 | Filed under: Blog, Member Agencies, News, Policy, Research — Tags: — Anderson @ 4:06 pm

Congratulations to this year’s Best in Class winners

Last night Daily Bread hosted the annual Best in Class Awards which recognized the amazing and outstanding support from our community and corporate leaders in our fight against hunger!

Here are the highlights of the evening and the 2014 award winners:

Community Fundraiser Award: Daily Flag for Daily Bread 

Congratulations to Michelynn and Benedict Hilliard on this great accomplishment and for all of their efforts for Daily Bread.

Daily Flag for Daily Bread is a truly a unique event that raises donations and creates awareness about poverty and hunger issues in the Beaches neighbourhood. This event takes place over 25 days and actively engages neighbours and friends who create one-of-a-kind flags and then auctions them off, with proceeds going to Daily Bread. Last year, Daily Flag for Daily Bread doubled its donations and allowed Daily Bread to reach out and help more people in need.

“We have to keep at it until the government does more on this issue of hunger,” said Benedict Hilliard.

From l to r: Sarah Diebel (Daily Bread board member), Benedict Hilliard (Daily Flag for Daily Bread) and Gail Nyberg (Daily Bread executive director.

From l to r: Sarah Diebel (Daily Bread board member), Benedict Hilliard (Daily Flag for Daily Bread) and Gail Nyberg (Daily Bread executive director.

Volunteer Team Award: CIBC

CIBC and its employees lead by example by donating hundreds and sometimes even thousands of hours of their time and their valuable skills – volunteering on-site in our warehouse or at member agencies; participating in special events and in some cases sharing their technical expertise with us.

Since 2008, CIBC employees have been regular volunteer fixtures in our warehouse. They have devoted a remarkable 3,000 hours of their time to Daily Bread. CIBC employees are committed to the communities where they work and live and we are grateful for their support!

From l to r: Sarah Diebel (Daily Bread board member), Lina Lanni (CIBC District Branch Manager),  Carissa Lucreziano, (General Manager- CIBC) and Gail Nyberg (Daily Bread executive director).

From l to r: Sarah Diebel (Daily Bread board member), Lina Lanni (CIBC District Branch Manager), Carissa Lucreziano, (General Manager- CIBC) and Gail Nyberg (Daily Bread executive director).

Corporate Donor Award: Great Gulf 

This year we are recognizing one of our long-time donors who have shown their leadership in support of hunger issues since 2003 – congratulations Great Gulf! One of the unique things about Great Gulf is that they are one of our only corporate donors to make consistent monthly donations. We know we can count on them each and every month! This is a huge help especially when the shelves are low and we need to purchase additional food items to supplement what has been donated.

“We are going to bring our staff to volunteer and challenge others to do the same, ” said Madeline Zito, who is the Vice President of Public Relations at Great Gulf. “This is such a worthwhile cause.”

From l to r: Gail Nyberg (Daily Bread executive director) and Madeline Zito (Vice President Public Relations for Great Gulf).

From l to r: Gail Nyberg (Daily Bread executive director) and Madeline Zito (Vice President Public Relations for Great Gulf).

Food Industry Donor Award: Campbell’s Company of Canada

Campbell’s Company of Canada has consistently provided outstanding food donations, of significant quality and quantity and on a regular basis.  Campbell’s understands that hunger is a complex issue – they support hunger issues through donations and also work hard to raise awareness and inspire our neighbours to get involved. Last year alone, they provided over half a million pounds’ worth of food donations. They are probably the best neighbour we could ever imagine!

“There are many people that are really struggling to feed their families and many children as well who are going hungry,” said Moya Brown. “At Campbell’s, we are committed to alleviating that hunger.”

From l to r: Sarah Diebel (Daily Bread board member), Moya Brown (VP, Marketing  at Campbell’s Company of Canada) and Gail Nyberg (Daily Bread executive director).

From l to r: Sarah Diebel (Daily Bread board member), Moya Brown (VP, Marketing at Campbell’s Company of Canada) and Gail Nyberg (Daily Bread executive director).

Agency Award: Friends of Jesus Christ, Canada Food Bank Ministry

Friends of Jesus Christ, Canada Food Bank Ministry, has been working with Daily Bread since 2008. This agency has consistently stepped up and covered areas when a food bank in the area has closed down, leaving a potentially devastating gap in being able to provide food to those in need. They are reliable leaders in helping to feed people in Toronto and we’d like to congratulate all of their efforts and the impact they have on people’s lives every day.

From l to r: Sarah Diebel (Daily Bread board member), Leticia Jonayon (Friends of Jesus Christ, Canada Food Bank Ministry) and Gail Nyberg (Daily Bread executive director).

From l to r: Sarah Diebel (Daily Bread board member), Leticia Jonayon (Friends of Jesus Christ, Canada Food Bank Ministry) and Gail Nyberg (Daily Bread executive director).

Partner Award:  Toronto Professional Fire Fighters

The Toronto Professional Fire Fighters have shown commitment and outstanding leadership! Every member of their team is already a hero in our city but they are also heroes for Daily Bread. Thanks to their generosity and support Daily Bread would face a big gap in our link to the community and in providing enough food to both our agencies and the food programs we support.

These leaders in our community and their fire stations have already collected over one million pounds of food. They’ve also run their own annual event since 2010 called The Starkman Cup Trivia Challenge and through that have raised $80,000. But, their support doesn’t stop there. This group also supports our other events and have collaborated by helping to create awareness across the city and through the donation of their time at some of Daily Bread’s third-party events.

“There’s nothing more rewarding than when a five-year-old has a little bag with soup cans in their hands and we have to lift him up so they can put it the box…It’s extremely gratifying to work with Daily Bread,” said Frank Ramagnano as he accepted the award on behalf of Toronto Fire Services and the Toronto Professional Fire Fighters’ Association.

From l to r: Sarah Diebel (Daily Bread board member),  Frank Ramagnano (President of the Toronto Professional Fire Fighters' Association) and Gail Nyberg (Daily Bread executive director).

From l to r: Sarah Diebel (Daily Bread board member), Frank Ramagnano (President of the Toronto Professional Fire Fighters’ Association) and Gail Nyberg (Daily Bread executive director).

To see more photos from this year’s Best in Class, check out the album on our Facebook page by clicking here.





Date Added: May 7, 2015 | Filed under: Blog, Fundraising Events, Member Agencies, News — Anderson @ 1:49 pm

Easter Weekend – Meal Programs

Click here to download a list of meal programs and drop-in hours over the Easter weekend (April 3 to April 6).

This list has been complied from information provided by both Daily Bread Food Bank and the Toronto Drop-In Network.

For information on your local food bank or meal program, you can call 211 during the weekend, evenings and holidays. During regular business hours (Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) you can call Daily Bread at 416-203-0050 to find out where your closest food bank is in Toronto.


Date Added: April 2, 2015 | Filed under: Blog, Meal Programs, Member Agencies, News — Anderson @ 10:43 am

Feature Agency: Parkdale Parents Primary Prevention Project (5P’s)


Stacia Stewart is the Program Coordinator for the Parkdale Parents Primary Prevention Project (5P’s). A part of the Parkdale Community Health Centre, 5P’s has a prenatal and staples food bank and has been a member agency of Daily Bread for over 20 years.

Stacia first used a food bank when her son was 2 and a half years old and she was laid off. “Going to a food bank is a stressful process”, said Stacia, “especially for a new mother.” Having needed some support herself as a recently unemployed mother at the time, she knows how important programs like 5P’s are for parents who are struggling.

For new parents and parents-to-be, 5P’s offers programs including a Mom & Baby Circle group for children 0 to 6 months, a Baby & Me group for children 6 to12 months, a Prenatal Nutrition & Support program and a program aimed at engaging new fathers. They also offer many one-off training sessions and workshops such as Infant CPR or food demonstrations during the various programs. Stacia has recently launched a program in partnership with Daily Bread where breast pumps are distributed to new mothers who want to feed their babies breast milk but might not be able to breast feed. The food bank has items specific to the needs of new parents, such as diapers, formula and baby food. The program space is accessible for strollers and has a baby change table.

The 5P’s program sees a very diverse group of participants including newcomers, women with mental health challenges and or addictions, youth and teens who are parenting, families who’ve experienced domestic violence or other types of trauma, parents struggling with postpartum depression, and women who are in shelters, homeless or underhoused.  Free supportive counselling is available for participants who would like to access it through 5P’s sponsor agency, Parkdale Community Health Centre.

5P’s is one of Daily Bread’s longest running and most successful programs. Stacia describes the success in the many clients she has seen graduate from the program. “Often the first time a woman comes in to 5P’s she may be facing many different stressors… we offer support from conception to one year old in our program, and there are also counselling and community development opportunities as well. Sometimes participants who entered our program facing an uphill battle have graduated and moved on to support other parents by volunteering in 5P’s or joining our Women’s Connection Advisory Group.” There is even one staff person working at 5P’s who began over 19 years ago as a participant and then moved into volunteering followed by a staff position.

Date Added: April 29, 2014 | Filed under: Blog, Member Agencies, News — Jessica @ 9:14 am