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Mississauga families are struggling to make ends meet; one in five food bank users received help for the first time this year.

The Face of Hunger 2014Mississauga, Sept. 23, 2014 –There are hungry people in every corner of the city, and The Mississauga Food Bank needs the community’s help to provide them with enough nutritious food this Thanksgiving.

The Mississauga Food Bank launched its Annual Thanksgiving Drive yesterday with a goal of collecting 100,000 pounds of food and raising $75,000 by Oct. 17. The food bank has also released its second annual report on hunger in the city – The Face of Hunger in Mississauga.

The report tells that one in five food bank visitors received help for the first time this year, and more than 70% of users have been living in Canada for more than three years. Food bank staff hope this information will break stereotypes that food bank users take advantage of the system and are mostly recent immigrants.

“It’s important to remember that the people who use food banks in Mississauga are our neighbours,” says Chris Hatch, Executive Director of The Mississauga Food Bank. “When you donate food or money to The Mississauga Food Bank, you’re supporting your own community, your neighbours, maybe your friends, family members or coworkers.”

Food bank staff and volunteers will be out at neighbourhood grocery stores collecting food and cash donations on Friday, Oct. 10 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 11 from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Look for them at Loblaws (Mavis/Britannia-Heartland); Real Canadian Superstore (Argentia/Winston Churchill); Real Canadian Superstore (Mavis/Dundas); Loblaws (Glen Erin/Eglinton), and Metro (Southdown/Lakeshore). Food can also be donated year-round at any Mississauga fire station.

Read or download a copy of The Face of Hunger in Mississauga on our website.

To donate to The Mississauga Food Bank online, visit donate.themississaugafoodbank.org.

About The Mississauga Food Bank

The Mississauga Food Bank serves the entire city of Mississauga. Through its network of member agencies – including neighbourhood food banks, hot meal programs and breakfast clubs – The Mississauga Food Bank distributes food for over 209,000 meals each month.

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Media Contact:

Meghan Nicholls
meghan@themississaugafoodbank.org | 905-270-5589 x226

We had a great time welcoming the public to our new facility on September 27 during Doors Open Mississauga. We had a mix of visitors: monthly donors, food drive organizers, sponsors, board members, staff and volunteers from our member agencies, guests from other food banks in Ontario and visitors who are totally new to The Mississauga Food Bank. We also welcomed Councillor Chris Fonseca and MP Wladyslaw Lizon to help cut the ribbon.

Thanks to everyone who came by and to the volunteers who made the day run smoothly.

Rod Alafriz

Rod Alafriz

Each year, we recognize our Volunteers of the Year for the incredible contribution they make to The Mississauga Food Bank.

We wouldn’t be able to provide food for 2.5 million meals each year without the support of our volunteers. Together, they generously contributed nearly 9,000 hours of their time in the past year.

“Volunteers put so much energy and compassion into helping food bank clients, it’s a pleasure to be able to work with such a dedicated and kind group,” says Sharbani Khan, TMFB’s volunteer coordinator. “The Mississauga Food Bank relies on its volunteers for food sorting, collections, events and distribution — we couldn’t provide food for our hungry neighbours without them.”

Rod Alafriz, who has been volunteering with TMFB since 2002, is our Individual Volunteer of the Year. Rod has always been available to help out in any way needed. Thank you so much for your support!

Thanks also to Eli Lilly Canada, our Volunteer Group of the Year. They’ve proven to be reliable and efficient volunteers in the warehouse—we appreciate their continued support!

Team members include Kavita Ahuja, Philippe Assad, Kathryn Bishop, Vasi Diamantopoulos, Lesley Houle, Robert Landriault, Rajiv Madhok, Meghan Markham, and Seema Sesha.Eli Lilly Canada

 

 

Earlier this month, the Government of Ontario released its 2014-2019 Poverty Reduction Strategy – Realizing our Potential.

The Ontario Association of Food Banks, which was the only food insecurity and hunger relief organization involved in discussions related to the strategy, provided the following summary of the strategy.


The OAFB stressed the importance of increased support and funding for food banks, as well as increased access to affordable and nutritious foods for all Ontarians. While there is some mention of hunger in Realizing Our Potential, the focus is mainly on ending homelessness across the province.

In the first Poverty Reduction Strategy released back in 2008, the provincial government called for a reduction of child poverty by 25% before 2014. The government did not meet this target. Now, with Realizing Our Potential, the Government of Ontario is once again committing to reduce child poverty by 25% based on 2008 poverty levels, yet this time there is no deadline.

In addition to ending childhood poverty, this new strategy focuses on:

  • An additional $42 million investment for the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative. This program provides funding to local governments to develop and create programs for the homeless in their community. This program receives close to $294 million in funding per year.
  • Indexing the Ontario Child Benefit to inflation. In July the provincial government raised this benefit to $1,310 per child.
  • Expanding coverage of health benefits for children and youth in low income families so that they have access to services outside the publicly funded health care system. Services include prescription drugs, vision, dental, and mental health care.
  • $50 million dollars over five years for the creation and implementation of a Local Poverty Reduction Fund which will be given to local solutions that can demonstrate they are actively alleviating poverty in their communities.

Finally, the only mention of food security in this new strategy is in regards to school nutrition programs:

  • Additional funding for 340 new breakfast programs in elementary and secondary schools, which will serve an additional 56,000 students
  • Expanding these breakfast programs to schools on First Nation reserves

While there is no doubt these measures will be helpful to many Ontarians, the OAFB believes there is more that the government can, and should do to alleviate poverty and food insecurity in Ontario.

The OAFB strongly suggests that you read Realizing Our Potential, and connect with your local MPP to discuss how this strategy will help your clients, and what more needs to be done to ensure your community is well supported by the Government of Ontario.

You can read the complete strategy by visiting ontario.ca/povertyreduction

Thank you to everyone who joined us for our Volunteer Appreciation BBQ! It’s nice to have a chance to say thank you to the generous people who make our work possible.

If you’re interested in volunteering in the warehouse or at one of our special events, please register on our volunteer calendar.

Jennifer

The impact of your donations is best said by the families we help. Here’s an excerpt from an email we received from Jennifer, a 27-year-old mother of three.


It has been almost two years since I began going to the food bank. The first time I went it was tough for me, but in my situation I felt I didn’t have a choice and I would give it a try.

My kids and I just left a homeless shelter and moved into our new home. Money was very tight and I wasn’t going to give up, but I needed a stroke of good fortune. I got it.

I had a friend at the shelter who called me up one day and asked if I wanted to go to the food bank. I accepted reluctantly and she told me the things I needed to bring.

When we arrived I felt embarrassed and ashamed. My pride took a beating that day, but the minute they called my name and I saw what the food bank was giving me I was so happy about the help that extra food was going to give my family.

Since that day I visit every month and even bring other people who I know need help. I want to show others what a difference the food bank could make in their life, just as it did in mine.

Vernon, Christina and Steve

It was a very busy summer for TMFB as we moved to a new location. We are so grateful for the help of our summer students, Vernon and Christina, who are back at school this week.

Vernon and Christina have written about their experiences working at The Mississauga Food Bank this summer. Read below for Christina’s story and read Vernon’s story here.


 Christina - Part of the team

ChristinaWhen I first started this job, I had no idea what a rewarding experience it would turn out to be. This being my very first employment opportunity, I expected to learn new skills and meet new people, but it ended up being much more than that.

From day one, my coworkers made me feel welcome and I felt lucky to be a part of this team, even if it was only for a short eight weeks. The friendly environment encouraged me to work harder and look forward to my days no matter what job I was doing (even cardboard). This experience also helped me to become more aware of what a present issue hunger is in our own Mississauga community and how important it is to support the cause however I can.Christina and Jon

Now that these eight weeks have passed and as I head back to London for school, I’m already beginning to miss the friendly greetings every morning, our weekly Wednesday lunches, smiling for Pamela’s camera, and even seeing Doreen’s scattered pop cans around the warehouse. To the staff, I can’t thank you all enough for making my first summer job a memorable one. I can’t wait to come back and volunteer whenever I can!

-Christina Tsakonas

 

Vernon and ChristinaWe were very lucky this summer at TMFB to have two amazing students helping us out during a busy season. Vernon and Christina are heading back to university next week, but we want to thank them both for the work they’ve put in this summer as warehouse assistants!

Great job, Vernon and Christina, and all the best for the coming school year!

Vernon and Christina have written about their experiences working at The Mississauga Food Bank this summer. Read on for Vernon’s story and click here to read Christina’s story.


 Vernon – Moving the food bank

VernonOut of all the summer jobs I could have had, working for The Mississauga Food Bank was by far the best one. On the first day of my summer job as a warehouse assistant, I walked through the door, all nervous and confused about what to expect. Little did I know that my fears were misplaced and that I would have a wonderful time working here.

I remember that I met all of the staff members almost fifteen minutes after I walked through the door and I struggled to remember each person’s name. Before I managed to remember each member’s name, I found out I had been given the opportunity to work alongside wonderful and enjoyable people.

After meeting everyone, Jon showed Christina and I how to do one of the most basic but highly important tasks – how to use a pump truck. I thought it would require weeks of practice to become proficient with it, but it only took us a few tries to learn how to maneuver it without crashing into anything.Vernon

After that we learned to do so many other things such as using the gun to pick orders, making sure cat food didn’t accidently get put into Fish and Meat, using the cardboard compressor, and even how to use the floor scrubber. I went out to visit member agencies and grocery stores to drop off or pick up donations with Steve, and dragged 200-lb food-filled, heavy duty bags with Chris.

Vernon and DoreenAll these nice and easy tasks came to an end when the move began. Then came the hours and hours of sweeping and using the floor scrubber in the new warehouse, moving all the food, removing things from the old place, setting them up at the new location and so much more. After a month we settled in to the new place and I got to enjoy my last few days there before the end of my work term. I certainly enjoyed my summer and all the people I met. I now am one of the few privileged that can say, “I helped move The Mississauga Food Bank.”

-Vernon Monteiro

 

DSC04559_optIf you’ve volunteered with us in the past year, please join us on Sunday, September 14 so we can say thank you for everything you do! We’ll be getting together at our new warehouse, 3121 Universal Dr., from 1p.m. to 4p.m.

Please register online and let us know how many friends and family members you’re bringing along!

Christina and JonCan you help us sort food at our new warehouse? Volunteer shifts are now open until the end of October – we need your help to get our shelves stocked again!

Please register online on our volunteer calendar.