Recently the PRODUCT Team got to head over to Daily Bread Food Bank to see how we could help. Take a moment and learn a bit about this organization and what it does in our community to conquer hunger and poverty. Thank you to the entire team at DBFB for showing us around and teaching us about the amazing things you are dong everyday. According to a recent report by the Ontario Association of Food Banks, the number of individuals in our community using food assistance is nearing an all-time high. In the GTA alone, more than 1.12 million GTA residents visited a food bank between April 2012 and March 2013 – around one-third of them children.
And though many Torontonians are familiar with food banks, not everyone’s aware of the crucial role they play in our communities. To shed light on this pressing issue and highlight some of the inspiring initiatives happening across the GTA to fight hunger, we went on a behind-the-scenes tour of Toronto’s largest provider of food relief – the Daily Bread Food Bank.
The sheer size and scope of the facility – a sprawling 110,000 sq.ft. warehouse – supported by generous donors, compassionate staff and selfless volunteers made it possible for Daily Bread to sort and distribute 4,140,059 lbs of food to over 200 food banks and meal programs across the GTA in 2012-2013.
And while ending hunger is Daily Bread’s primary mandate, it’s after school and pre-natal programs, job training programs and resource center have positioned it as more than just a food source, but instead a community hub – giving those in need access to long and short-term support and training necessary to overcome hunger and poverty.
“A need for food brings people through our doors that might not otherwise seek help or assistance,” says Brianna Greaves, Information Referral Center Coordinator, Daily Bread Food Bank.
“Crisis relief such as housing, healthcare, immigration and legal aid is available across the GTA but many don’t know how to access it. Food acts as a gateway that allows us to address a number of issues that stand in the way of stability and employment,” she adds.
Greaves also mentions that while the Resource Center is a new initiative at Daily Bread the team is working hard to expand the program to their member agencies across the GTA.
Daily Bread’s most reputable educational program – producing an 80 per cent success rate – is the Kitchen and Food Services Training Program. People facing barriers to employment – whether they’re newcomers to the country, have english as a second language, out of work for some time and in need of retraining, can’t afford to go back to school, or those with physical disabilities – are taught the skills needed to get a job in the food service industry. Those accepted into the paid, 16 week program complete with coop placement are taught food preparation, cooking, serving and cash responsibilities among other skills.
The trailblazing initiatives of Daily Bread and its team of partners have made great progress in the fight against hunger. Their tireless efforts paint the visual realization that even if hunger cannot be eliminated, it can be alleviated. But there’s is still lots to do. Not-for-profit, charitable organizations like Daily Bread rely on the goodwill and generosity of the community to succeed.
Want to give back? Daily Bread gathers nearly 75 percent of food donations during the holidays so watch out for Daily Bread donation bins at local grocery stores. To learn more about the Daily Bread Food Bank and ways to get involved visit: www.dailybread.ca
WORDS: KERTNEY LYNN RUSSELL
PHOTOS: SASS FRASER