In our ultimate guide to food banks, we shared with you everything you need to know about food banks. In this article, we will have a focus on Canadian Food Banks and why are they important to Canadian communities?
Food banks are nonprofit organizations (NGOs) or they could operate as a charities and have a mission of providing or distributing food to those people or communities who cannot afford it. They are placed strategically in every province to serve the greatest number of people.
There are many diverse models of food banks operating worldwide. These food banks serve as storage depots facilitating the storage and distribution of millions of pounds of food every year across disparate communities. Some foodbanks work as frontline agencies handing food directly to hunger-stricken communities, while others act exclusively as food storage and distribution points. Many factors influence the performance of these food banks. The one common feature among all of them is that they rely almost solely on volunteers and donors to carry out their daily activities.
Though the task initially seems easy. In reality, it is a gigantic mechanism that keeps food banks on their toes. From securing the food to its shipping and storage, and ultimately distributing the food requires round the clock accuracy where there are no chances for any discrepancy.
Canadian Food Banks.
Today we will solely focus on food banks in Canada, how they work, and how they support the community to avoid hunger. Before we dive into the actual topic, let us take a glance at how much food is wasted in Canada each year. This topic is very relevant, as this is where the reader will understand the need for food banks.
As per the statistics provided by the National Zero Waste Council, household edible food waste in Canada has exceeded almost 2.2 million tons, which amounts to over $17 billion surplus.
Of all the food produced in Canada, half of it is wasted. That sums up for a mind-blowing 58% or 35.5 million tons of food. According to a new report, at least one-third of this lost or wasted food could be saved and repatriated to deserving communities across Canada.
Let us break down this food waste, and you will be surprised to read that the retail phase of the supply chain is responsible for 12% of the avoidable food waste. All this is sent to industrials composts or disposed of in landfills. For many of the largest retailers, a food donation is a big problem.
Have you ever encountered food insecurity? Due to financial restraints, the majority of people have been through food insecurity at some point in life. Almost three-fourths of the food insecure population in Canada is made up of the working poor. They are either low salaried households, self-employed or part-timers. There are many ways this food insecurity can be coped with. Food banks are one of the important options available.
How Do Food Banks Support the Community?
Food banks work by recovering perishable foods from restaurants, cafeterias, hotels, and grocery stores. Food banks also collect non-perishable items in food drives from the community, schools, and other organizations. Even non-perishable items have an expiry date, and distributing the food is important before it goes to waste. Food banks also help in reducing food waste. In addition to feeding the community, some food banks work beyond that. They may have offer additional programs on making recipients self-sufficient, so they never have to access a food bank again. Supporting their needs and providing them solutions for their crisis. They may also provide additional services in basic needs like utilities. Some food banks may also provide vouchers that can be redeemed to top up the heating and electricity meters to keep them on for a couple of more weeks.
Food Banks in Canada.
There are over 700 food banks in Canada running 30000 food programs. They work under the umbrella of FOOD BANKS CANADA, which is a registered charity. In May 2020, more than $8 million were raised, which was the highest amount raised in a televised charity initiative. According to a survey, around 705000 people used a food bank every month. These Canadian food banks serve approximately 3,091,777 meals across the country.
We at Circle Acts have selectively highlighted a list of Best Food Banks in Canada to donate to for you.
Check out a list of great food banks we have found!
Find best food banks near you
How Did Canadian Food Banks Serve Canada in the COVID-19 Pandemic?
With the global pandemic going strong, there is hardly any good news pouring in. But these food banks are responding by working round the clock since the onset of the virus. Their untiring efforts have made it possible that people don’t stay hungry in the middle of the chaos caused by the pandemic.
If we just looked at the quarter from March to June in 2020, 4 in every 10 people had visited the food banks for the first time. It was the uncertainty caused by the pandemic that forced them to do so.
More than 8% percent of the food banks are working harder than they did a year before. This means that 4 in every 5 food banks are serving more people than they did in 2019.
Just a month before Christmas, in October, Canadian food banks provided 50% more food than they did at the same time the previous year.
With financial restraints caused by business closures and layoffs, people had more difficulty because they couldn’t afford to provide meals for their families over the holiday season.
Food banks have stepped forth to providing more meals since they have been accustomed to working harder. As a result of this pandemic, the probability is that 1 in every 6 Canadians will be affected by food insecurity in the coming days.
Before the pandemic, food banks relied heavily on the services of volunteers for keeping the business moving. The demand for food is greater, and the number of volunteers has significantly decreased because they are falling in the high-risk category and are forced to stay home. So food banks are struggling to meet their human workforce demands as well.
What Difference Do Food Banks Make?
Due to the heavy impact that the food banks have on the community, the government has decided to distribute $100 million to food banks across Canada, especially those struggling with dwindling resources and increased demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These sums up to a total of $300 million spent by the Canadian government for the same. These food banks have provided for the poor; otherwise, the nation would have witnessed a huge surge in deaths caused not by COVID-19 but by hunger.
Want to Help?
Donate non-perishable items to your local food bank. Items in need are almost always things like Peanut Butter, Pasta, Rice, Pasta Sauce, Tuna, Diapers, Baby Formula, Canned vegetables and fruit, Cereals, Oils, Broths and Spices. When you buy items for the food bank look at the expiry dates, the longer the expiry dates the better it is for the food bank who is responsible for distributing foods.
Volunteer for a local community food bank. Many have age restrictions but check with them and bring in your older teenagers to help. They run on volunteers and there are countless jobs to be done from sorting and packing foods to maybe serving or cooking if the foodbank is also a kitchen. Most food banks are non-profits which also means they likely have some sort of other revenue stream, which means there could be other ways to help. An example could be selling fresh produce boxes to the community or offering cooking classes.
Donate to your local food banks, they will use the money donated to fill in the community food boxes so recipients get balanced meals or use the money for running their own facility. Circle Acts has put together a list of the top high impact community food banks in Canada and you can read about them here. https://www.circleacts.com/en/charities/food-banks/
Nobody should go hungry!