New Developments in our Food Security Strategy
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Toronto’s Food Access Coordination Group has been hard at work on a Food Security Strategy. Today, I wanted to share additional updates on our work thus far.
To expand access to food banks, the City has added another two pop up locations in Toronto Public Library branches, for a total of 11. The tenth location is at the Jane and Dundas branch, and the eleventh location is at Runnymede and Bloor, beginning today. A total of 5,685 people (or 2,259 households) have been served through these locations to date.
Our Food Hamper delivery program in partnership with the Red Cross has delivered 754 hampers of free groceries to low-income seniors and others in need since it launched on April 7. Staff delivering the hampers noticed that many senior residents were also in need of support and companionship. Beginning today, the Red Cross will also be offering psychological support from their Safety and Wellbeing Team to all senior recipients of the program, through information flyers in each hamper. Seniors and others who are self-isolating and need assistance getting food can call 1-833-204-9952 to request this service.
The next stage of our Food Security Plan includes launching a system for preparation and delivery of cooked meals, which will go to community agencies providing direct support to residents. In partnership with United Way, the Hawthorne Training kitchen has begun preparing 3,000 meals per week, which will be delivered to community agencies through Second Harvest. City staff are working to scale up this delivery in response to need.
In addition, our partnership with Food for Kids has registered over 35,000 student families across the city for $50 grocery gift cards. An additional 700 more cards are being provided to newcomer families in need through community agencies. The City has also leveraged over $200,000 in donations to more than 65 community organizations and local partners, and facilitated the donations of over 10,000 hygiene kits, 800 cases of pastries, and 200,000 cans of water to vulnerable Torontonians.
Residents in need can register for food programs and get up-to-date information by calling 211 directly, or visiting 211toronto.ca where food listings are updated daily.
While staff at the City and our community partners have accomplished a great deal in a short period of time, we know that more still needs to be done. No one in our city should face hunger or food insecurity. I will continue to work with our local partners to address the needs of our most vulnerable during this difficult time.