Fall food drive falling short in midst of election campaign

In the lead up to Thanksgiving, Canada’s largest food bank has urged Torontonians to look beyond the provincial election and spare a thought for the city’s hungry.

With a week to go until the end of its annual Fall Drive, the Daily Bread food bank faces one of its worst donation totals in recent years, with only $87,000 and 38,000 pounds of food raised so far. Gail Nyberg is executive director at Daily Bread.

“We’re looking to raise $400,000 and 400,000 pounds of food; so we are way behind,” she said.

This time last year, the food bank had received approximately 160,000 more pounds of food, said Sarah Anderson, director of communications at Daily Bread. She points to the provincial election and wonders why poverty hasn’t received any attention.

“The media and people aren’t thinking about hunger and how that’s affecting people in Toronto as much, and within the election, poverty certainly hasn’t been one of the stronger issues that the candidates have been talking about,” she said.

Daily Bread is the largest provider of emergency food relief in the GTA, supporting approximately 170 member agencies and delivering food hampers and prepared meals to those most in need. Of the 750,000 visits to their member agencies last year, 36 per cent were children.

The Fall Drive is one of the food bank’s largest annual fundraisers – second only to the Holiday Drive. If donations remain low, it will have a significant impact on the services the food bank can support, Anderson said.

“It basically means less food for more people; that’s essentially what it comes down to,” she said. “We need to provide as much as possible in order to give out enough for two to three-day hampers for people across the city, but it’s totally based on what we actually have in our warehouse and what we’re able to purchase with funds that are donated.”

However, as the election comes to a close, Anderson remains optimistic.

“We’re hopeful that some of the attention may shift to people who are struggling with hunger,” she said. “As people think about their own Thanksgiving meals, hopefully they’ll think about those who may not have as much.”

Daily Bread’s Fall Drive ends on Oct. 14. Donations can be made online at www.dailybread.ca or by calling 416-203-0050. Alternatively, non-perishable foods can be dropped off at any local fire hall or participating grocery store.