In Canada, food bank use grew by an alarming 30% following the 2008 financial crisis. Now, as we see business closures and layoffs as a result of COVID-19, we are preparing to see a similar rise in food insecurity in our city.
While COVID-19 has caused a great deal of suffering and hardship, it has also shown the strength and resiliency of communities all across the country.
Over the past few weeks, Daily Bread Food Bank has been working closely with the City of Toronto and community organizations, including North York Harvest Food Bank, Canadian Red Cross and Second Harvest, to launch a city-wide, coordinated effort in response to food insecurity challenges due to COVID-19.
Food is a human right and we are committed to ensuring that all people in Toronto have access to the food they need to stay healthy.
Through communication with Mayor John Tory as well as through our membership on the City of Toronto’s City-Community Response table and Food Access Coordination and Support table, we have made significant strides in meeting community food needs, including:
- Mapping current food programs and closures to identify geographic gaps in access
- Partnering with the Toronto Public Library to open temporary food banks in areas where there have been food bank closures
- Supporting the development of a new program to deliver groceries to low-income households who are self-isolating and cannot access food
- Requesting and receiving guidelines from Toronto Public Health to ensure that food banks are maintaining the health and safety of clients, volunteers and staff
- Providing coordination support to the City to distribute large donations of food stores to food organizations across Toronto
We are immensely grateful for the leadership demonstrated by Mayor John Tory and City staff who have made food security one of the highest priority items in the City’s crisis response. We are also deeply appreciative of our partners at Toronto Public Library, who have not only opened up libraries to serve as food banks, but has transformed their central book distribution warehouse into a food hamper packing space. These partnerships will be essential as we tackle food insecurity during COVID-19, and the uncertain economic times ahead.