For Non-Profits and Charities
- Second Harvest's FoodRescue.ca platform is matching food donations from businesses to social service programs in local communities.
- Second Harvest also received funding from the federal government to support emergency food access with grants to local organizations. Those funds have already been exhausted, but Second Harvest encourages non-profits and charities to continue to apply for funding as it builds up new revenue.
- The City of Toronto is providing requested equipment and resources (e.g., forklift operators trucks and drivers.) to community food programs to help maintain operations and serve residents.
Many people in our communities have lost their jobs or seen their incomes decline as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Others have seen the community supports they regularly use close or alter their services. Others cannot leave their homes. All Torontonians are encouraged to reach out to their neighbours to offer help, or to ask for help, during this emergency.
More than 40 percent of food bank programs have closed during the COVID-19 crisis, and the food programs remaining are under immense pressure to meet demand. Here are sources for information on the latest:
- The best source for up-to-date information on food program availability is 211toronto.ca. Food listings are updated daily as information is received from providers. Call 2-1-1, or view its map of open food bank locations.
- The Food Security Team at Agincourt Community Services have also created a food assets map that promises up-to-date information on food banks, free/low cost meals, delivery services, and supermarkets.
- North York Harvest Food Bank will refer you to your nearest food bank: 416 635 7771 ext. 0 | email@example.com
City of Toronto Responses
The City is working hard to ensure that low-income and vulnerable residents continue to have food access. It is leading a Food Access Coordination Support Group — including Second Harvest, Daily Bread Food Bank, North York Harvest Food Bank, Red Cross, and the Salvation Army — that meets daily to develop an evolving Food Security Strategy meant to keep existing food programs open and fill the gaps left by the closure of others.
So far, the Strategy involves these elements:
Free food hamper delivery for seniors and others self-isolating
The City is working with the Red Cross and other partners to provide food hamper delivery to seniors and others in need who are unable to leave their homes to access food. There is no fee for the cost of the groceries, or for the delivery. To ensure that this support gets to those who need it most, residents who have the ability to pay for delivery services or can rely on friends, family, or other community food programs are asked to do that.
For help, call the the Red Cross at 1 833-204 9952. Live operators are available in multiple languages.
Food banks in libraries
Nine food banks staffed by City employees are now open at Toronto Public Library locations. The physical set-up ensures physical distancing is maintained, and security is provided at each location. Hours and addresses for these food banks are posted on the 211 website.
The City is also facilitating food banks in Toronto Community Housing buildings for tenants and in specific community centres where possible.
The City of Toronto is also working to connect offers of free services and other resources, such as free hot meals and delivery, free spaces and equipment, to agencies and communities that need them. These initiatives include:
Food for kids
The City is working with student nutrition program partners to repurpose resources to support the Food for Kids program, which will get grocery gift cards to families of children in need. Here's an information sheet describing how it works for students in the Toronto Catholic District School Board.
Food for Indigenous communities
The City is providing support for the Toronto Aboriginal Support Services Council (TASSC) to coordinate food access for Indigenous communities facing similar challenges created by the COVID-19 response, including increased access to food and financial support.
To request emergency supplies from TASSC, visit their website.
Providing equipment to community food programs
The City is providing requested equipment to community food programs to help maintain operations and serve residents. To date, the City has provided City-staff forklift operators to Daily Bread Food Bank to assist with warehouse operations and has trucks and drivers on standby to help transport food.
How You Can Help
We must all do what we can to support those in need.
- Residents can drop off non-perishable food donations at food banks and local fire halls
- Restaurants or food businesses with surplus food can donate it to Second Harvest's foodrescue.ca
- For corporate and in-kind donations, email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Ontario Community Support Association is helping isolated, low-income seniors and people with disabilities and chronic medical conditions to get food or medicine and other essentials.
To request a service, visit its website or, if you need help requesting a service, call 2-1-1.
The Friendly Neighbour Hotline
Seniors who live in low-income housing can call the hotline for delivery of up to 8 items (groceries or other essential household items).
Toll-free: 1 855 581 9580 (available in 180 languages) | or order online
The Good Neighbour Project is a network of community members willing to deliver groceries and supplies across the GTA to healthcare workers, seniors, single parents, pregnant women, those in isolation, and people with disabilities, compromised immune systems, or accessibility barriers.
Helpline: 647 873 2230 (8am to 8pm) | email@example.com
FYI: How to Shop Safely
Some excellent advice from NPR: No, You Don't Need To Disinfect Your Groceries. But Here's How To Shop Safely
- Focus on the people, not the food (practice physical distancing!)
- Avoid crowds and shop quickly
- Wear a face covering
- Go alone (don't shop in groups or bring family along like it's a social outing!)
- Sanitize carts and hands
- Skip the gloves (watch this video to see why you should not wear gloves if you do not know how to prevent cross-contamination)
- Give the cashier space
- Choose no-touch payment if possible
- Don't drive yourself crazy disinfecting your groceries
- Don't be afraid of fresh produce
- Know that freezing or refrigerating does not kill the virus