The city of Toronto has so many fantastic places in which to feast and imbibe that it can be easy to forget there are people struggling to put food on their tables at home. Some of Toronto’s impoverished citizens are visibly hungry, but other demographics can easily go unnoticed: children, seniors, or those trying to escape an abusive domestic situation can find hunger compounding their already difficult struggle to survive. Another growing demographic, the working poor, also have hunger to contend with.
Enter Second Harvest, an organization paying attention to this gnawing hunger in collective bellies. Tonia Krauser, Communications Director for Second Harvest says, “The intention was for us not to be here in 2012, much like a lot of food banks from the ‘80s. They were seen as a temporary solution, as a gap measure, but every year the need increases, and most of the people [who are hungry] that you meet day to day aren’t going to talk about it. There’s a lot of shame sometimes, in not being able to provide or get food.”
When you factor in how much food waste a city the size of Toronto can generate, it seems unfathomable that so many people can go hungry, but with trucks on the road seven days a week picking up and redistributing food from major grocers and TO restaurants, Second Harvest is distributing the equivalent of 16,000 meals every day. “The perishable food is rescued from restaurants and food manufacturers, then distributed to over two-hundred community agencies from kids’ breakfast programs to community centres helping isolated seniors.” Even with this effort, there is still food going to landfills and people going about their days underfed.
Second Harvest’s Lunch Money Day fundraiser helps to keep gas in the trucks and the trucks on the road but in order to increase the number of pickups and deliveries funds (or lack thereof) are an ongoing issue. The citywide fundraiser, held February 16th, typically has volunteers collecting cash at TTC stations, and lunch at Yonge-Dundas Square. The idea is that you spend the equivalent amount of money you’d normally spend on lunch by buying tickets for tastings, ranging from $2-$5. The food is delicious as well as cheap, with all profits going to the grass roots Lunch Money Day campaign.
A $1 donation = 2 meals, and the formula for this cost effective equation is pretty simple: the routes for the trucks are planned for maximum efficiency. Since the majority of the rescued food is perishable, it needs to be redistributed within 24-48 hours.
“We’re responding to the need,” Krauser concludes, “looking to improve efficiency and create innovative programs to get food into the hands of people who need it most.”
So you missed out on Lunch Money Day? Don’t fret my pet! There are over 200 campaigns that run year ‘round in all shapes and sizes, from bake sales to mini-Olympics. To start your own or get involved, visit www.lunchmoneyday.com or check out www.secondharvest.ca.
Written By. Megan Evans. Photography By. Tyrone Mitchell
Lunch Money Gallery