Tafelmusik is thrilled to be partnering with CBC Toronto and Daily Bread Food Bank this year on their Sounds of the Season fundraiser in support of GTA food banks. We chatted with Daily Bread Food Bank CEO Neil Hetherington over email to learn a bit more about their mission, why the holidays are so important, and how we can all get involved.
Tafelmusik: Tell us about the mission of Daily Bread Food Bank. How many people do you serve?
Neil Hetherington: At Daily Bread we believe that no one should go hungry. Every single day families, seniors and children all across our city are experiencing hunger – last year alone we saw over 750,000 visits to food banks in Toronto – and in a city as wonderful as Toronto, it’s simply unacceptable.
To address this tremendous need, Daily Bread distributes both non-perishable and fresh food to over 135 food banks and meal programs operating across the city, while at the same time advocating for system changes and solutions to end poverty to all levels of government. With support of our network of agencies, dedicated volunteers and committed donors, people living in poverty can access the food and services they need to stay healthy.
T: Why is the holiday season such a key time of year for your services? How does your partnership with CBC Toronto (and now Tafelmusik) on Sounds of the Season make a difference?
NH: Hunger doesn't stop at the holidays – in fact, it can often be the hardest time of the year for families experiencing food insecurity. Our partnership with CBC Toronto and Tafelmusik for Sounds of the Season makes a remarkable difference for people in need, not only by raising much needed food and funds for our operations, but also by mobilizing support in the community and creating unique opportunities for others to engage with the cause. These partnerships are vital to our mission in alleviating hunger.
T: If someone wanted to volunteer, what could they expect to help with?
NH: That’s a great question. If someone decided to give their time to Daily Bread, it might involve preparing meals for shelters, working in our on-site food bank or sorting non-perishable or fresh food donations in order to have them distributed to food banks across the city. You can come in with your co-workers, your classmates, or make it a family affair by signing up for an upcoming holiday public food sort. We are incredibly fortunate to see over 10,000 volunteers a year rolling up their sleeves in our warehouse to give back to their community.
T: Tell us about the new Toronto Street Food Bank.
NH: The New Toronto Street Food Bank is located inside Daily Bread’s distribution facility at 191 New Toronto St, Etobicoke. In addition to helping people access food, the New Toronto Street Food Bank offers Information and Referral Services that provide information, referrals and supports.
T: What are the best ways for someone to help right now?
NH: An easy way to give back this holiday season is by dropping off non-perishable food items at your local grocery store, firehall or community events like CBC Sounds of the Season and Tafelmusik’s Messiah shows. Making a financial contribution also goes a long way. By mobilizing thousands of volunteers each year, we’re able to stretch a $1 donation to purchase $5 worth of food.
There are so many ways to get involved, and everyone can give back. We all have the opportunity to make Toronto a better city, and that might mean giving your time or making a donation.