Food Banker Spotlight – Bob Mandel

We are always interested in hearing more about the individuals in food banking across Canada! This month, our spotlight is on Bob Mandel, who is the founder of the Avenue Road Food Bank in downtown Toronto.

What is your role in food banking?

Part of my role as the Avenue Road Food Bank founder is to imbue a sense of generosity and purpose towards our guests with our volunteers. As our hospitality coordinator, I manage the flow of our resources on a week-to-week basis to meet the predetermined needs of our guests as best as we possibly can.

What are your pronouns?


Describe a typical day in one word. 


What was your inspiration to get involved in food banking?

I started on the other side of the table, so to speak. Eighteen years ago, in need of the services of a food bank for my son and me, I found myself at the Walmer Road food bank, and by the time I got home with groceries, it was already past dinner. So, the following week, utilizing my professional food service background, I used some of the resources at hand and made sandwiches for a hundred people. I haven’t looked back.

What is your greatest achievement in your current role?

Seeing our guests smile.

What is your greatest challenge in your current role?

Having enough resources – FOOD – for all our guests. Five years ago, we opened our doors to 45 households. A year ago, we averaged 250; this year, close to five hundred, and sometimes it’s closer to six. It’s scary.

If you could have one wish granted that would address hunger in Canada, what would it be?

For the government to recognize we have a national food insecurity crisis that food banks can’t solve and to act: for immediate relief and a long-term view.

Which talent would you most like to have?

To be able to sing and write music. It’s always been a powerful tool.

If you could give your younger self advice, what would it be?

Take it easy. On yourself. And others.

Who are your heroes?  Fictional or real-life.

My three kids.

What is your idea of happiness?

Peace of mind.

What is your motto?

Don’t quit,

Something quirky about you that others may not expect or know?

I have three novels in various stages on my computer.

Your theme song?

It depends on the week!

Do you know a food bank or food banker that could be featured on our next Spotlight? Contact us at