What is it like to go to a food bank? As a former treasurer and Board member of the Mississauga Food Bank, I witnessed firsthand what it looks like to access this primordial service. The individual provides information about their personal and family situation to the local staff and an assessment is then completed to determine what they will receive. After lining up for their allotment, the food they receive is tailored to their needs, giving them approximately seven days’ worth of food each month. This helping hand is so desperately needed to fight food insecurity challenges. It certainly makes me appreciate being able to go to a grocery store or order groceries online based on what I would like to eat. A very humbling experience.
In support of Drive Away Hunger and our local food bank, the BDO Mississauga office volunteers, year after year, to help prepare items for community distribution. After required safety protocols, we are split into groups to perform designated tasks. Some BDO staff are assigned to bundle cardboard, which is packaged and sold to generate revenue. Others are tasked to sort donated food into pre-determined categories. This involves checking the best before dates on the items and ensuring the container is in good condition before packing it in a box in the appropriate category. Another group will then seal the boxes and move them to larger pallets for storage until they can be given to clients. Through volunteering, we all feel that supporting the local food bank is a rewarding experience. It’s one way we are able to give back to our community and help those in need of the items we have prepared.
Did you know that the best before date on most food items does not mean that it needs to be thrown out on that date? Our BDO team learned this while sorting donations at our local food bank.
COVID-19 has had a direct impact on food banks. According to Food Banks Canada, usage increased 20% within the first 8 weeks. Due to this increased demand, Food Banks Canada has set a goal of raising $150 million to fight hunger across Canada. Many local food banks received significant donations during the pandemic to continue their missions of feeding people in the community. Additional programs were set up in certain areas to try to meet the increased demand during the pandemic. Emergency food hampers were prepared for distribution as the need was high.
Food banks are in need of our support now more than ever. I challenge you during this season of Thanksgiving to give what you can to help feed families in your community. Let’s come together as a BDO network to help fight hunger. Our donations can help meet the basic needs of many.