Every year during the holidays, we at CAFE run our Holiday Food Drive, through which we collect food donations and bring them to food banks in our community. We are all too aware that more and more people are facing food insecurity these days, and we hope that the donations collected through our food drive were able to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable members in our society.
Back in November, we set up a large donation bin at each of our four downtown CAFE dispensary locations. The goal was to collect as much non-perishable food as possible to fill the bins, which would then be donated to our local community food banks. We encouraged our staff, community and patrons to help us fill the bins with badly needed food items sought by food banks, and people in need. Over the last few weeks, the response from our community was fantastic! We noticed that many customers would come in with a canned or packaged food item every time they came in for a coffee, or to get their cannabis products. We are super grateful to the efforts of everyone that has contributed to our food drive!
CAFE’s Holiday Food Drive wrapped up this past week, as we packed up all the donations and began preparing to make the drop-off to our community food banks in the days before Christmas. We wanted to match donations, so we purchased additional canned goods, packaged cereals and pastas, baby foods and bottled drinks to add to the collection. On Friday December 23, we loaded up all the donations and headed off to the first of our two stops. This year, we partnered with Fort York Food Bank (FYFB) and Parkdale Food Bank. Both are local organizations dedicated to helping those in need access food and resources. We have worked with both partners before on various community outreach efforts, and were glad to be able to do so again on this food drive.
We are truly grateful to our CAFE staff members who volunteered to help with the food drive drop-off on Friday. The day started off cold, wet and slippery – the City of Toronto had been warned about a severe, incoming snow storm that would affect road conditions. Residents of the city were being encouraged to stay home and avoid travel. Despite all this, our CAFE staff members were able to make it and help deliver over 1000lbs of food to local food banks in downtown Toronto.
The scene outside Parkdale Food Bank was a humbling one. As we pulled up, we observed a line up of dozens of individuals outside on the street, waiting to receive food. The snow storm may have kept many residents of Toronto at home, but it was clear that for these people, the need for basic necessities brought them out into the streets, to wait patiently for food despite the snow, freezing rain and blowing winds. This sight was a direct testimonial to the needs of our city, and we are thankful to be able to make a small difference by donating as much as we could during these challenging economic times.
Thank you so much to our staff, community and volunteers! We consider our community outreach efforts to be so important, as every little bit helps and makes a difference in the lives of some of our city’s most vulnerable members. We would not be able to do this work without the help of everyone that contributed food, and their time and efforts in helping us deliver it when needed. We hope we were able to make some dinner tables a little more full this year for Christmas. We are grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve our community in Toronto, and look forward to more ways to do so in 2023.