Fall Food Drive Gets Healthy Boost

DAILY BREAD FOODBANK . Volunteers work on sorting food at the Daily Bread Food Bank in Toronto. For story by BLACK. Photo by Rene Johnston/Toronto Star

Volunteers sort food at the Daily Bread Food Bank. The food bank has collected 271,000 pounds of food so far in its fall drive but is still well short of its goal of 500,000 pounds. Photo by Rene Johnston/Toronto Star

Fall Food Drive Gets Healthy Boost
Food bank is grateful for volunteers’ support but is still short in its autumn campaign
Oct 14, 2008 04:30 AM
Debra Black
Staff Reporter

For Niramayan Vigneswaran, a 25-year-old student at Centennial College, Thanksgiving Day is a time to give back. So he and about 25 friends from his Hindu temple, the Sri Sathya Sai Baba Centre of Scarborough, were at the Daily Bread Food Bank yesterday donating and sorting food.

“Volunteering is an important part of your life,” said Vigneswaran, who hopes by this time next year to be training to be a police officer.

“You have to realize at the end of the day there are those (who are) in not as great a situation as you are. I believe we’re here for a purpose and we need to serve that purpose – to do good.

It makes me sad that there are people that have to come to get food because they can’t support themselves.”

Vigneswaran was one of about 260 volunteers at the Daily Bread Food Bank yesterday – including Liberal incumbent for Etobicoke-Lakeshore Michael Ignatieff, his wife and some supporters – who were sorting food.

Ignatieff came unannounced and said to food bank executive director Gail Nyberg as he kissed her hello and shook hands: “We park politics at the door on this day.” Then he took his place at a table and began sorting.

Nyberg was pleased by the show of support from all the volunteers yesterday. The Daily Bread Food Bank had only anticipated having 200 volunteers this Thanksgiving, but 60 more than expected showed up to help out. Nyberg put them to good use, even asking a few to sweep up.

With only a few more days left in the fall food drive, Nyberg, however, remains concerned about the final outcome. So far the food bank is still well short of its goal of 500,000 pounds of food and $500,000 in donations. Nyberg said as of Thanksgiving Day the food bank had collected 271,000 pounds of food and $269,000 in donations.

“It’s still a ways to go,” said Nyberg, who is hoping over the next few days people will dig deep into their pockets and hearts and come up with both food and cash donations. But the uncertain financial picture – with the wild ups and downs of the money markets and fears of possible job layoffs – has caused many to think twice about donating both money and food, Nyberg said.

But the food bank’s fall drive wasn’t the only thing on Nyberg’s mind yesterday. She urged all the volunteers during a break in sorting to remain politically informed and make sure they vote today.

She didn’t care what party they supported as long as they voted, recounting how her son, who is serving in the Canadian military in Afghanistan, had called her earlier in the week to tell her he had voted. Even though the mother and son differ in their views politically, both cherish the hard-fought right to vote as an important part of the democratic process, she said.

But whatever the election results, Nyberg fears many more of the GTA’s working poor will be turning to the food bank for help this winter.

Currently, 28 per cent of food bank users are in families with at least one person working, according to the food bank’s own research. Across the GTA last year, there were 952,000 visits to food banks for food last year. Nyberg expects that number to climb substantially in the coming year.

The fall food drive runs until Friday. Financial donations can be made online at dailybread.ca or by calling 416-203-0050. Food donations can be dropped off at any fire hall, Loblaws or Real Canadian Superstore.


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