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To help commemorate The Mississauga Food Bank’s 30th Anniversary, we have been documenting stories of hunger and hope in our community. Over the past month, we have visited several of our 52 member agencies and asked clients to share their experiences with us. The story of a food bank client, volunteer or supporter will be posted every day this month.

All photos and stories will be shared through social media and on our blog.

Last year, our hungry neighbours visited neighbourhood food banks 80,151 times and made an additional 87,779 visits to our meal, snack and breakfast programs. Make a donation today to help bring hope into their lives.

#30stories

 

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

Guest Post by Emily Markes

Emily
 
Hello! I’m Emily, a fourth year Psychology student at the University of Guelph, and this summer I was lucky enough to work at The Mississauga Food Bank as the Food Programs Assistant. I was responsible for conducting an annual client survey, which involved visiting member agencies and speaking directly with clients. In addition to working with all the amazing staff here at TMFB, I got to meet a number of inspiring individuals at each agency. I was collecting feedback from the clients about the quality of food and service at each food bank, and it really helped me become aware of the needs of people in Mississauga.
 

Here are the four biggest surprises this summer:

 
1. The member agencies. I have always known about The Mississauga Food Bank, but I didn’t know that they deliver food to a network of organizations located across Mississauga. They include neighbourhood food banks, pantries, hot meal programs, breakfast clubs and shelters. Since I had the opportunity to visit 6 of the agencies, I got to see how each operates in its own way.

2. The number of families and individuals served at each food bank each week. I grew up in Mississauga and it shocked me most when I learned how many member agencies we have and how many people visit each of them. Our neighbourhood food banks were visited 85,889 times last year. There were also 103,494 visits to meal, snack and breakfast programs.Some people have this idea of Mississauga being a well-to-do suburb, but working at the food bank makes you realize how many hungry people there actually are.

3. Importance of donations all year long. Of course everyone knows donating to the food bank is important and helpful, but I never realized to what extent. Without donations – whether it’s from a corporation, a food drive or someone dropping off a can of fruit – there would be no food bank. I witnessed the ‘slow period’ that happens during the summer as donations are down because people are away on vacation and just aren’t thinking about their hungry neighbours. It’s important to remember that people need food in the summer too, not just the holidays.

4. The variety of food. Whenever you hear of a food drive happening in your community, you automatically think non-perishable canned food. While these foods are always helpful, it surprised me to see the amount of fresh and frozen foods we distribute to the agencies. I also think it’s really cool that the food bank plans to distribute even more fruits and vegetables to increase the quality of food for clients.

hungerfreesummer
 
While donations slow down to a trickle during the summer months at food banks across the country, the need remains the same. But YOU can create a Hunger-Free Summer for families in Mississauga! Here’s how you can join the #HungerFreeSummer movement:
 

Make a donation

Your donation goes a long way! Every $2 you donate provides food for 5 wholesome meals. Donate today.
 

Run a food drive or fundraiser

Community Events are limited only by your imagination – garage sales, scavenger hunts, charity dinners…almost anything! Events of all sizes play a very important part in raising awareness about hunger in Mississauga and providing the food and funds we need to feed our hungry neighbours. Learn more and don’t forget to register your event!
 

Donate food

You can pick up some extra items and drop them off at your local grocery store or fire hall. Or you can make a donation directly to our warehouse (including fresh items) at 3121 Universal Dr. Check out our list of most needed food items for donation inspiration!
 

Spread the word

Head to Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram to let your friends and family know about the Hunger-Free Summer movement!  Don’t forget the hashtag #HungerFreeSummer.
 

Volunteer


Help out in the warehouse, hop on the truck to help deliver food, join us at events and much more. It’s easy to sign up on our Volunteer Calendar!

Aquaponics Supplies

 

It might look like a random assortment of boxes, bins and burlap, but these components will be transformed into an aquaponics farm very soon! Read below as our very own aquaponics farmer, Colin, walks us through some of this week’s exciting arrivals. 

Need a refresher on aquaponics? Read Aquaponics 101.

 

The Tanks

Fish tank

 

It all starts here! Each of our two 110 gallon fish tanks will soon be home to approximately 50 fish.

 

Nutrient Testing Kit

test kit

 

The waste our fish will produce (in the form of nitrates) is the fertilizer for our crops. So, our fish will be swimming in water regularly tested to ensure it’s nitrate levels are perfect to grow as much food for our hungry neighbours as possible.

 

Grow Beds

Grow Bed

 

Nutrient-rich water from our tanks will be pumped to our three grow beds. This is where the magic will happen! But you can’t grow crops without soil, right?

 

The Soil

Soil

 

Our “soil” is similar to fiberglass. It’s made from rock that has been melted down and spun to create the perfect surface to hold the plants in place and collect nutrients.

We can’t wait to assemble the farm and start growing – stay tuned to see everything come together!

MMCC

Members of MMCC pick up their first order from The Mississauga Food Bank

 

We’re thrilled to welcome the Mississauga Muslim Community Centre (MMCC) into our member agency network! We’ll be helping to ensure MMCC’s food pantry is fully stocked so that they can focus their resources on community programs like the Syrian Newcomer Integration project.

As more Syrian newcomer families arrive in Mississauga, a collective community effort is needed to help them overcome social isolation and economic barriers. Here’s how MMCC is rising to the challenge and helping Syrian newcomers get settled in Mississauga:

Refugee Mentorship
Arabic speaking volunteers are matched with a Syrian newcomer family to help them integrate into their new community.

Education
Volunteer teachers are holding weekend classes for children and adults to teach everything from English to computer skills!

Halal Food Pantry
We’re pleased to provide nutritious and culturally-appropriate food for newcomer families who are struggling to make ends meet. 100 Syrian newcomer families are currently accessing this service each week.

Visit MMCC’s website to learn more about their work in our community. Without your support, amazing programs like the Syrian Newcomer Integration Program couldn’t exist. You can support more programs like this one in our community by making a gift today.

Impact Report

 

We’re thrilled to share our annual Impact Report with you this week! Thanks to your support in 2015-16, we’ve been able to help thousands of hungry neighbours – more so and in ways like never before. Check out a snapshot of your impact below:

Your Impact, By The Numbers
This is what YOU have made possible. Download the full report to see more of your impact and to find out how you can take the next step and join our crusade for a Mississauga where no one goes hungry.


Download the Full Report

Colin

We’re thrilled to welcome Colin Cotton to The Mississauga Food Bank team this week! Colin will be in charge of our brand new aquaponics farm. What is aquaponics, anyway? Click here to find out.

We sat down with Colin on his first day so that he could introduce himself to you. Read our chat below:

Welcome to the team! What will you be up to at the Food Bank?
I’ll be supervising the aquaponics program — a new program where we’ll be introducing fish and produce. The goal is to start producing some fresh food that we can provide to the community year-round. That’s one of the biggest benefits of aquaponics. You can grow things in the winter whereas in a regular agricultural setting you can’t do that because of our Canadian winters.

What does an aquaponics farmer do day-to-day?
Well there’s a lot of fish feeding, so that should be fun! Hopefully we can get visitors to the Food Bank involved with that.

I’ll also be constantly measuring the water parameters – that’s really important. I’ll be measuring things like oxygen, pH, nitrates. The fish will obviously produce waste and we need to make sure they’re not poisoning themselves but still making the waste we need for the plants to grow.

What about cleaning?
Well actually it’s a pretty clean system. A benefit of aquaponics is that the plants uptake the waste. So as long as we keep the feeding in check, the plants should take care of everything else.

How did you get into urban farming?
Chris (Hatch) has a lot of passion for bringing aquaponics here and I think we share that passion. I have a background in ecology – which is the study of ecosystems in the world, so how animals and nature interact with each other. And, in this setting, it’s all about how the fish interact with the plants. We’ll be modelling nature in a warehouse setting, which is really interesting.

Do you think aquaponics is the way of the future for food banks?
Absolutely. In fact, I think it’s the way of the future for agriculture in general. Given how efficient aquaponics is – you save soil, water, energy and it’s year-round – I think we’re on the cusp of the future here. I think this is the direction a lot of food banks are heading in.

Fun fact about yourself?
Hmm that’s a curve ball *laughs*. Well I really love animals and before coming here my volunteer job involved working with raccoons. I worked at an animal rehab (Procyon Wildlife), so we’d get orphaned and injured wildlife like little baby raccoons, deer, opossums, foxes, you name it. Lots of squirrels! I’m still involved with them as well, it’s really fun.

As valued supporters of The Mississauga Food Bank, we are committed to keeping you informed about anything affecting our ability to respond and communicate with you. Canada Post may experience a labour disruption as early as July 8. If so, and if you require anything by mail such as a tax receipt, we can send you an electronic copy or, if it is urgent, may be able to send you what you need through an alternative mailing service. Donations can always be made securely online at donate.themississaugafoodbank.org.

If you have any questions, please contact Wendy Altamirano at 905-270-5589 x222 or wendy@themississaugafoodbank.org.

Thank you for your patience and for supporting The Mississauga Food Bank.

What does a fish tank and a fish named Alphie have to do with feeding hungry neighbours in Mississauga? We revealed something pretty special at this year’s Supporter Appreciation Party: our brand new aquaponics farm.

Catch the big reveal below at the 27:46 mark!

What is aquaponics, anyway?

Aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (the soil-less growing of plants) that grows fish and plants in one integrated system. Using a minimum amount of both water and space, our aquaponics farm will organically grow fish and vegetables for our hungry neighbours.

 

How does it work?

Aquaponics 101

 

Why is The Mississauga Food Bank doing it?

Year-round access to wholesome vegetables and protein

Our aquaponics farm will enable us to source the healthiest, most nutritious food possible…365 days a year. Aquaponics is an innovative and – most importantly – sustainable way to produce fresh food for those who need it most. Because everyone in our community deserves access to healthy, fresh food.

Compensate for decreasing donations

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to regularly source fresh produce for the food bank. Agriculture has largely vanished from Mississauga and without access to plentiful farmland, we have to get creative.

Educate about urban farming and increase knowledge of food security

While aquaponics has been used by food banks in the U.S, The Mississauga Food Bank will be one of the first Canadian food banks to use this system! We hope to spread the word and educate our community and other food banks nationwide about sustainable urban farming.

 Aquaponics

 

Timeline

We’ll be keeping you updated on our farm’s progress over the coming months – stay tuned! Here’s what’s in store:

Summer 2016

  • Hiring farm supervisor
  • Installing the farm in our warehouse

Fall 2016

  • We will be harvesting!

Our aquaponics farm is made possible by the generosity of the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
Ontario Trillium Foundation

Find out what supporters like you are saying!

quote

We asked and you answered! Recently, we asked you to fill out a survey about your experience as a donor and what motivates you to feed your hungry neighbours in Mississauga. Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond, we loved hearing about your experience as a supporter of The Mississauga Food Bank.

So, which areas of our work are most important to you? 21% of our supporters are most passionate about providing fresh food to their hungry neighbours.

What is your biggest motivation for supporting The Mississauga Food Bank?

piechart

Click here to discover the full results!

 

 

is in just 3 days!

OutRUN Hunger is our 5K run/walk event to raise funds and awareness about hunger in Mississauga—and it’s happening this Saturday at 6:00 p.m. Today is the last day to sign up, so click here to register. It’s easy to register and fun to participate, whether you’re signing up alone, with friends, or bringing your whole family!

If you’ve already registered, there’s still time to do some eleventh hour fundraising. Here are some tips:

  • Donate to yourself. It all begins with you! Show your friends, colleagues and family that you’re serious about ending hunger in Mississauga with a donation to your fundraising page.
  • Send emails to your friends, family and colleagues. Every little bit helps. Try being specific: ask 4 family members to donate $50 each, 14 friends to donate $25 each and 10 co-workers to donate $25 each.
  • Post on Facebook and other social media. Post a fun photo with a link to your fundraising page once every day this week. Remind your network how their donation will make a BIG impact: every $2 will provide food for 5 meals.

If you’re unable to walk or run with us but still want to participate, you can donate to outRUN Hunger here! All proceeds will help hungry families, seniors and children in your community and strengthen the fight against hunger in Mississauga.

Our goal is to reach $25,000 to provide food for 62,500 meals. Together we can outRUN Hunger.


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