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IMPACT STORIES


The power to make a difference starts with taking a single action.

Eliminating food insecurity in Canada is no small undertaking. Thankfully, we’re not facing this challenge alone. Each day, people across the country are stepping up to the plate to bring about positive change in their community. And every action gets us one step closer to a future where no one goes hungry.

IMPACTING LIVES FOR THE BETTER

Providing food, resources, and social supports, to simple acts of kindness—people are making a difference in a variety of ways. The following stories represent just some of the individuals, groups, and organizations that have impacted lives for the better.

MAKING AN IMPACT: AFTER THE BELL – HALIFAX, NS
MAKING AN IMPACT: AFTER THE BELL – LETHBRIDGE, AB
MAKING AN IMPACT: CAPACITY BOOST – PEACHLAND, BC
MAKING AN IMPACT: TAX CLINICS – MISSISSAUGA, ON
MAKING AN IMPACT: FOOD RECOVERY – ORILLIA, ON
MAKING AN IMPACT: RYAN REYNOLDS AND BLAKE LIVELY
MAKING AN IMPACT: CAPACITY BOOST – THUNDER BAY, ON
MAKING AN IMPACT: RURAL TRANSPORTATION GRANT

MAKING AN IMPACT: AFTER THE BELL – HALIFAX, NS

Feed Nova Scotia’s mission is to increase food security through distribution, education, and collaboration. To achieve this, they distribute almost 2 million kilograms of donated food to their member network of 140 food banks and meal programs across Nova Scotia—yet their role also extends well beyond food.

In 2021, Feed Nova Scotia delivered healthy food packs to more than 50 communities across the province.

Through innovative partnerships, Feed Nova Scotia was able to reach smaller food banks, such as the Mulgrave Park Tenants Association Food Bank—located in a public housing community in the north end of Halifax. What makes this collective so special is that it also comprises of a Caring and Learning Centre, which was opened by a group of concerned community members who wanted a place where local area residents could turn to for services or information they wouldn’t normally be able to obtain otherwise. Living by their website motto ‘when school is out, we are in’, MPTAFB’s Caring and Learning Centre provides a variety of programs to promote healthy interactions between children and their parents, as well as other caregivers and members of the community.

MAKING AN IMPACT: AFTER THE BELL – LETHBRIDGE, AB

For the Interfaith Food Bank in Lethbridge, Alberta, language is often a barrier for some of the new Canadians that visit their food bank. To bridge the communication gap, children are often brought along to the food bank by parents to act as interpreters—including young Nashid.   

When Nashid was asked by an IFB representative to tell his mother to come back each week over the summer to pick up the After the Bell food packs, his eyes brightened. 

In fact, Nashid was so excited by the news that he told his brother first and then translated for his mother. Suffice to say, the two boys quickly became a fixture at the IFB over the summer, as they always looked forward to receiving their food packs. What makes this story so inspiring is that if it wasn’t for Nashid and his brother tagging along with their mother on that first visit, the family would never have become aware of the After The Bell program—and the summer months would most likely have been a little more challenging for the family to get through. Proof that no matter how young someone is or what their background and circumstances happen to be, every voice is important and deserves to be heard. 

Name mentioned above has been changed to protect the family’s privacy. 

MAKING AN IMPACT: CAPACITY BOOST – PEACHLAND, BC

Standing in line at a food bank is not on anyone’s bucket list; people do it out of necessity. And yet because of the stigma associated with going to a food bank, there are those who find it difficult to reach out for help—even when their life depends on it. 

One such person is Ann in Peachland, BC, a throat cancer survivor living below the poverty line. 

Although struggling financially, Ann was more concerned about the Peachland Food Bank having the capacity to assist others, instead of asking for the help she so desperately needed herself. However, after a bit of reassurance, Ann finally accepted their offer of support. Over time, everyone at the food bank came to know Ann’s unique dietary needs, since having gone through several throat surgeries, there were only certain things she could eat. So, one day, the food bank included a raspberry cake in Ann’s food hamper as a special treat. Well, Ann couldn’t stop raving about it, as there were no seeds in the raspberry filling, making it easier for her to swallow. Needless to say, that silky smooth raspberry cake has been on Ann’s wish list ever since. 

Name mentioned above has been changed to protect the individual’s privacy. 

MAKING AN IMPACT: TAX CLINICS – MISSISSAUGA, ON

Terri Fotheringham may have a host of certifications and credentials after her name, but she has never forgotten where she came from. Having grown up in subsidized housing, this CPA, CMA, and Certified Professional Coach is a real-life success story that believes in giving back to her community. 

So, when the Mississauga Food Bank put out the request for volunteers to assist with their tax clinic initiative, Terri was quite happy to help out. 

“People can be a little anxious when it comes to taxes—especially new Canadians going through the process for the first time,” explains Terri. “However, by the end of our conversations, it was a great feeling to know that I was able to answer their questions, allay any anxieties or concerns, and even shed light on the (tax) credits they were entitled to.” In addition to helping others through the tax clinics, Terri offers a beacon of hope for those who may feel trapped by difficult circumstances. “If, in some small way I’m able to help someone recognize that a person is not destined to live out their life based on how they grew up or what their current situation might be, that for me would be the ultimate reward that comes from volunteering.” 

MAKING AN IMPACT: FOOD RECOVERY – ORILLIA, ON

Thanks to the support of Food Banks Canada and many dedicated community partners, The Sharing Place Food Centre in Orillia, Ontario is making quite the impact in their community. Last year alone they brought in over 213,000 pounds of fresh meat and vegetables through the food recovery program. 

The food recovery program has been so successful for The Sharing Place that they now no longer have to buy fresh foods such as eggs or milk. 

This has drastically reduced their spend, enabling The Sharing Place to invest in other areas. However, according to Executive Director Chris Peacock, it’s not the food that’s actually making the biggest of impacts. “It’s the sense of community that’s being built,” says Chris. “After all, the desire to give back is human nature—it’s in our DNA. And yet like exercising, the majority of us don’t do it nearly enough. But when you do, I can tell you from experience that it feels pretty amazing.” 

MAKING AN IMPACT: RYAN REYNOLDS AND BLAKE LIVELY

2020 was an especially difficult year for the 4,750+ food banks and community organizations across the country. With the full impact of the pandemic about to hit, the team at Food Banks Canada knew we needed to come up with something extraordinary to help them all make it through.

It was a daunting task, but then something unexpected, yet completely amazing happened. 

A few days before rolling out a massive donor campaign, Food Banks Canada received its first donation in the amount of $750,000 from none other than Canadian film star Ryan Reynolds and his wife Blake Lively. The news about Ryan and Blake’s donation went viral in a matter of hours, providing the boost Food Banks Canada needed to inspire people, companies, and foundations to support local food banks.  

This led to Food Banks Canada being nominated as one of the beneficiary organizations of a large-scale concert (Stronger Together), which raised almost $9 million

Ryan continued to support Food Banks Canada every step of the way. He enlisted the support and participation of his celebrity friends, spanning everyone from musical and literary artists to A-list producers. He volunteered to do a one-minute video, speaking from the heart about Food Banks Canada’s vision and mission. Ryan and Blake also continued their philanthropic generosity as a couple by donating to other Canadian food banks. Then, in early 2021, they made another exceptional gift in support of the Food Banks Canada COVID-19 Response Fund, which inspired many others across the country to donate to their local food banks.

By the end of the fiscal year, thanks to Ryan, Blake, and so many wonderful philanthropists, Food Banks Canada completed its $150 million COVID Response Fund.

Ryan’s altruistic commitment didn’t go unnoticed. On November 26, 2021, Ryan received the Governor General’s Award for the performing arts—recognizing his generosity as a philanthropist (in addition to his talent as an actor and spokesperson). Food Banks Canada was asked to do something special for Ryan in honour of him receiving the award, so one of the members of our team came up with the idea of creating Ryan’s portrait using cans of food. Together, with a team of designers and builders, Food Banks Canada created an expression of donor love for this amazingly kind and generous man. 

View a time-lapse of the ‘canstruction, created with thanks to our partners at Skylar Media Group

MAKING AN IMPACT: CAPACITY BOOST – THUNDER BAY, ON

For the Regional Food Distribution Association in Thunder Bay, time is of the essence. In addition to meeting the food needs of the communities they serve, the RFDA is continually racing against the clock to ensure they’re able to process the abundance of fresh food donations that come in, before they expire.  

This means the RFDA has a very limited window in which to process these types of donations. 

Tanner Harris, Food Service Manager of the RFDA explains, “In some cases, it can take up 2 or 3 days for fresh food donations to even reach us. When they finally do arrive, we have to first clean, cut, and portion the food before it can be stored away. When all is said and done, we’re looking at about 24 hours from when we receive fresh food donations, to the time it’s all safely stored.” 

With a background as a trained chef, Tanner knew of a way of reducing fresh food waste, but it was going to take some serious money. 

“Back in my days as a chef, we used blast chillers. Since they bring food to a low temperature a whole lot quicker than a freezer, it seemed like the perfect solution for use. Yet for the RFDA to purchase the kind of blast chiller we needed, it would come at a cost of over $25,000—money we just didn’t have.” 

That’s when the RFDA decided to apply for a Capacity Boost grant through Food Banks Canada. 

“When our application was approved and the money came through, we were beyond excited,” exclaims Tanner. “Since purchasing the blast chiller, we’ve been able to reduce our processing time from several hours to just 30 minutes. Plus the increased capacity means we’re now able to provide fresh foods to even more people in the community, which is a wonderful thing.” 

With those fresh foods, Tanner hopes to inspire people to adopt healthier eating habits.  

“Before the pandemic hit, I had started teaching a cooking class at the RFDA,” recalls Tanner. “In this one class, I was explaining the health benefits of an avocado, when a man spoke up to say he had never heard of an avocado. By the end of the class, not only did this person know what an avocado was—he left having tried one and loving it. It’s moments like these that fuel my passion for helping others.”  

Our thanks to Tanner Harris of the Regional Food Distribution Association for sharing his story, as well as The Walmart Foundation for providing the funds that made this donation possible. 

MAKING AN IMPACT: RURAL TRANSPORTATION GRANT

Rural Canada may be considered small in some respects, yet it accounts for 95% of the country’s landmass. That’s a lot space to occupy for just 18.7% of the nation’s population. This brings forth a unique set of challenges for residents of these rural communities.  

For starters, remote and rural areas tend to have a lack of infrastructural development, which, in addition to transportation challenges, can create barriers to economic growth.  

Canadians living in these regions are recorded as having the lowest average annual income in the nation, earning 30% less than their urban counterparts. These areas are also faced with the highest unemployment rates in the country, which has led to an escalation in poverty and a growing number of people becoming food insecure. This accounts for the fact that 35% of Canadian food banks are located within rural and remote communities. Due to the diverse geographies and sheer vastness of rural areas, it becomes quite expensive for food banks to pick up and deliver food to people in need. To help offset these costs, Food Banks Canada established the Rural Transportation Grant.   

Thanks to the support of Sygenta and Farm Credit Canada, nearly $500,000 was distributed to rural food banks across the country through the Rural Transportation grant.  

Recipients included the Barriere and District Food Bank Society in British Columbia, where the Rural Transportation Grant helped to ensure their capacity to deliver monthly food hampers to those in need, living in outlying areas. With the Barriere and District Food Bank Society being entirely volunteer-based, the grant was a massive help, as they fully rely on the raising and donation of funds.  

As more Canadians in rural and agricultural settings turn to food banks in times of need, these organizations will continue to require financial support to deliver their critical programs.  

Because while funding provided through various avenues (such as the Rural Transportation Grant) have helped rural food banks to cover miles expenses, there is still miles to go before every Canadian can eat without the help of a food bank.  

MAKE AN IMPACT IN YOUR COMMUNITY BY GETTING INVOLVED