On the Road
Last week, we talked about everything that happens inside our warehouse, so this week we’re focusing on how it gets where it needs to go!
This is Steve – our full-time driver who delivers food to our member agencies all over the city. He also picks up donations from all of the places YOU donate it. On any given week, he will make deliveries to 15-20 agencies and pick up donations from grocery stores, fire halls, schools and other corporate donors all around the city. We’ve split the city into zones, but Steve still averages 400+ kilometers of driving every week!
Come along for the ride and see what a day on the road is like.
Load Up the Truck
First thing in the morning, Steve works with our warehouse team to prep the daily orders. Usually, the ‘dry’ food is already packed and ready to go on the truck but they still need to prepare all of the fresh and frozen items. Once this has been packed on the truck, he’s ready to hit the road!
Agencies receive food based on their size and the number of clients they serve, so each order is slightly different. Once he arrives at the agency, he follows three simple steps:
- Bring the order inside.
- Help staff and volunteers unload the boxes.
- Sign the paperwork and say goodbye.
From here, the food goes directly to our hungry neighbours!
Picking up Donations
Once all of the deliveries are done, its time to fill the truck back up again! Steve keeps all of the donations separated according to where they are from so that they get properly entered into the warehouse inventory. And so we can say thank you to the donors!
Steve backs right into their loading bay and brings the donations directly onto the truck.
Some of our community donors have permanent or temporary bins at their locations so Steve has to transfer the food directly into boxes on the back of the truck.
Even though the pick ups may look very different, the end result is the same: a full truck bringing healthy food back to the warehouse to be unloaded, sorted, then sent back out to the community!
If you’d like to ride along with Steve for a day, sign up to volunteer as a Truck Assistant! You’ll ride shotgun and help to deliver and pick up food – it’s a fun day!
Welcome to #WarehouseWednesday!
Before the food can be boxed and sent to our member agencies to be distributed to clients, our trusty volunteers ensure the best before dates have been checked and that the product isn’t damaged. Did you know that 1.4 million pounds of food came through our warehouse to be distributed to our hungry neighbours last year? In today’s blog, walk with us through the process from when food first arrives at the docking bay to when it goes out to our agencies.
|Step One: Weigh In|
When a delivery arrives, our warehouse staff unload the truck, weigh each donation and log it into the warehouse database.
|Step Two: Tag It|
Each new delivery gets a ‘license plate’ that shows it has been received and tracks when it arrived in the warehouse. Once the donations have been logged, they are sent to the ‘receiving’ or ‘staging’ area until they are ready to be sorted.
|Step Three: Heavy Lifting|
When the volunteers are ready for more items to sort, our warehouse staff uses the forklift to bring a pallet over to the sorting area.
|Step Four: Check the Date & Inspect for Damage!|
Before the food can be boxed and sent to our member agencies to be distributed to clients, our trusty volunteers ensure the best before dates have been checked and that the product isn’t damaged.
How do they know what food is still good? Easy, they just refer to the “Best-Before Board”! Once they make sure the food is not outside of our best before protocols, it goes into a grocery cart for the next step.
|Step Five: Sorting and Boxing|
We sort food into 25 different categories according to type of food.
We have categories for everything from breakfast foods, soups and baking items to meats and vegetables.
|Step Six: Pallet-ing Area|
Once the boxes are full, they’re taped closed and placed on a pallet that corresponds with their category. Each box weighs approximately 10 pounds and each pallet can hold up to 40 packed boxes!
|Step Seven: The Picking Row|
To fill the orders for our member agencies, the warehouse staff pull from the ‘picking row’. They use the database to fill this row with stock based on how long it has been in the warehouse. First in, first out!
|Step Eight: Send it Out|
We load the truck and make deliveries to our member agencies all around the city!
|Secret Weapon: Volunteers|
Last year, our volunteers served for a combined total of more than 13,000 hours. Without them, this process wouldn’t work nearly as quickly as it does now!
Do you want to get involved now that you know more about how our #SortingSystem works? You can sign up here!
Keeping up with The Mississauga Food Bank!
This blog post is written by Emily Wiles, our new Marketing and Online Giving Coordinator.
Hello! I’m thrilled to be starting off this new year in a new role, getting to know the Mississauga community better. One of the things that I am most excited about in my role is keeping you up to date with what’s happening at the food bank! At TMFB we are committed to remaining open and accountable to our community. That means that we are constantly sharing information about upcoming events, fundraisers, volunteer opportunities and community initiatives.
Here are 3 ways you can engage with us on Social Media:
1) Sign up for emails by heading over to our homepage and entering your info into the bar that looks like the picture below. I promise your information is safe with us.
Whether you’re looking for informative articles about hunger in Canada, curious about what happens at the food bank on a daily basis or just need a little#FoodForThought, we’ve got you covered! Follow us on any (or all) of our accounts and you can stay up to date on what your community is doing to create a Mississauga where no one goes hungry. We’ve got lots of interesting projects on the go and want to hear what you think about them. Feel free to check out what #MississaugaMike was up to throughout the #HolidayDrive16 or see what’s been happening with AquaGrow Farms!
3) If you already follow us, then there are still some steps you can take to make sure that you’re getting our updates:
Navigate to our page and click on the “Following” tab, immediately below the cover photo.
Then click on the “See First” option to make sure Food Bank posts will always show up in your news feed.
Navigate to our profile and click the three dots in the upper right corner, then hit the “Turn on Post Notifications” button.
Thank you for following us! Stay tuned for more updates.
AquaGrow Farms Update: An Interview with Colin Cotton
We sat down with Colin, Aquaponics Farm Supervisor, to find out how things are going at AquaGrow Farms!
1. Overall, how are things going at AquaGrow Farms so far?
Everything has been great! We’ve had such an awesome response from our volunteers and visitors to the food bank about the project. It seems to really drive home the need for fresh produce in Mississauga and the creative solutions required to meet that need.
In terms of the day-to-day farm operations, we’ve stocked both our tanks with fish and have begun harvesting our greens. The lettuce is growing like crazy! Some of the leaves are over 5 inches across and those ones aren’t even ready to be harvested yet. Visitors have commented that our raft tanks now look like forests. It may be cold and grey outside at the moment, but it’s great to know that we’re filling up bowls of greens across the city!
The fish have (for the most part) been behaving themselves and eating very well. We expect to harvest the first batch towards the end of March.
2. What have you learned since we started this project?
It’s amazing what the farm can teach you every day. As soon as you’re comfortable with how everything works, a new situation is brought up and leads to many more learning opportunities. It’s always changing, but that’s what keeps things fun.
We’ve learned a lot about fish behaviour. For example, they actually prefer to be more tightly packed in a tank because that reduces territorial behaviour. Now that we’re fully established, our next batches of fish will be doubled to minimize fighting and the occasional splashing that falsely sets off our flood alarm at early hours in the morning.
With the leafy greens, we’ve learned a lot about how they grow. Light, water, and nutrients are the basic necessities for growth, but each of those components can go super in depth. We’re constantly looking at each of these factors to see what will keep the greens happiest, healthiest, and growing as big as possible! And we’ve learned a little about lettuce identification as there was a seed that grew into a different kind of lettuce than the rest – we suspect it’s Romaine!
3. What are you personally most excited about for AquaGrow Farms?
I’m always excited about harvesting our greens. It’s really rewarding to see the results and especially share that experience with volunteers and visitors. I feel like AquaGrow Farms volunteers also get the satisfaction of knowing that they’re making a positive impact on their community first-hand. I pass along the feedback to them and they’re always happy to hear that the produce is being well received by families using our food banks.
I’ve also come to really enjoy teaching people about food security and the process of aquaponics so I look forward to the monthly AquaGrow Farm tours. It’s a lot of fun to engage people and show them how aquaponics works in a hands-on way and they’re always surprised that this is something they can do in their own homes. It’s such an easy and effective form of agriculture. It’s exciting to think about the possibilities and maybe in the future it’ll be the norm for everyone to sustainably grow food in their own homes for a healthier and less hungry Mississauga.
4. How can people get involved?
Just as previously mentioned, people can volunteer either as an AquaGrow Farms assistant or choose from the many other opportunities available on our website.
If you’d like a tour, please contact me and I’d be happy to show you around our farm.
You can also make the most of your food drive donations and choose healthy, nutritious items to donate. Fruit, vegetables, grains, and proteins like canned fish and meat are great options!
If you’d prefer to give financially, that’s no problem at all. Financial donations help The Mississauga Food Bank source and purchase fresh and healthy food year-round, much like the aim of AquaGrow Farms.
5. What’s next for AquaGrow Farms?
That’s a good question actually! We’re still in the process of making sure we’re reaching the full potential our farm can offer, but I think we’re getting close to that now.
From there, it seems like the sky’s the limit. We’re in the early stages of looking at other types of produce we can grow like tomatoes and we want to make use of every inch of space we have. In other words, we’re not done growing!
Get all the information on AquaGrow Farms at themississaugafoodbank.org/aquagrow.
Mississauga Demonstrates its Care with Exceptional Holiday Food & Fundraising Drive Donations
Annual Holiday Drive raised $519,430 and 241,785 pounds of food
Mississauga has once again demonstrated it is a caring city with a big heart. From November 23 to January 6; YOU contributed generously to feed hungry neighbours through our annual Holiday Food and Fundraising Drive.
By Friday, the community had generously donated $519,430 – breaking the previous year’s record for the Holiday Drive and exceeding this year’s goal of $500,000. Through community food drives, plus collections at local fire stations and grocery stores, the food bank also received 241,785 pounds of food. While the food donated fell short of the food bank’s goal of 275,000 lbs, financial donations will be used to purchase most needed items including fruit, vegetables and protein products.
The Holiday Drive is the food bank’s largest annual initiative to raise food and funds and was sponsored this year by corporate partners Nissan Canada Foundation and the Just Energy Foundation. Each year, 30% of funds and 20% of food for the entire year are raised during the important Holiday Drive.
Thank you for your generous support!
What I’m Thankful for at the Close of 2016
This blog post is written by Meghan Nicholls, our Director of Marketing and Development.
At the food bank, the month of December is the busiest time of the year. With hundreds of food drives and fundraisers in the community – we’re attending events, picking up donations, answering phone calls, and sending out messages asking for your support. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and exhausted in the midst of it all.
But when I stop for a few minutes and think about why we’re busy, I can’t help but feel so thankful.
Here are a few reasons why:
1. I’m blown away by the generosity of our community. Every year it amazes me how many people give financially to ensure their neighbours don’t go hungry. Did you know that in the month of December alone, 2,145 people made a donation to The Mississauga Food Bank? We’re not just quoting a slogan when we say “It takes all of us to feed our hungry neighbours”; it really does take all of you generous people!
2. We have caring organizations in Mississauga. Since the start of the Holiday Drive on November 21, 343 caring companies, groups, foundations and clubs made donations of food or finance to the food bank. WOW!
3. The next generation is learning how to give back. My favourite food drives and fundraisers are the ones run by kids. (Sorry adults!) I love seeing how excited they get at the food they raise, and hearing their great ideas to raise loonies or twonies. Kids get it that other kids shouldn’t go hungry and do such a great job taking care of hungry neighbours.
4. My colleagues are a great bunch of people. The Mississauga Food Bank has just 11 staff. And they work really hard, always looking for ways to make sure that we can get the most food out to those who need it. From working with those caring corporations to driving a truck to managing the food in our warehouse, our staff team take their responsibilities seriously. I’m honoured to work among this team who is so dedicated to no one going hungry in Mississauga.
We look forward to sharing the results of the Holiday Food and Fundraising Drive with you next week. Your caring and generous gifts will distribute nutritious food to those who need it most in our community!
Have you met #MississaugaMike?
He’s #MississaugaMike and he’s a corrugated box. We sent out 7,000 of him, asking you to donate to ensure we have boxes to distribute food in 2017.
Did you know that 22,000 boxes of food left the food bank warehouse this year? All full of wholesome, nutritious food that generous donors like you helped provide!
As we tape up and ship out the year 2016, will you help The Mississauga Food Bank get enough boxes for 2017?
The Mississauga Food Bank needs to raise $16,000 before December 31 to ensure there are sturdy boxes for 2017.
You can give $1 for free – Download the cut-out of #MississaugaMike, print and cut it out, then post a picture on social media with the hashtag #MississaugaMike. A generous neighbour will give $1 for every post with this hashtag to buy even more boxes!
Questions? Contact Meghan at 905-270-5589 x226 or by email.
The Newest Way to Feed Your Neighbours…My Own Fundraiser
We get it, the holidays are a time to spend with family and friends, doing things you enjoy together. You want to give back to help the community, but you’re worried you don’t have the time.
That’s why we’ve introduced My Own Fundraiser! With just a few clicks of your mouse, you can set up your own fundraising page (like Buddy the Elf’s page below) to help make the holidays a little warmer for the thousands of Mississauga residents who come to us for wholesome food.
You can personalize your page with your message and image, and send invitations to friends, family and co-workers to help reach your goal. It’s really that simple.
Here are some ways you can use it:
- Fundraising in lieu of gifts – Perhaps in honour of an important birthday or your wedding
- Recognizing a special event – For the opening of a new facility, at a party, or festival
- In the office – Set a goal and if your colleagues give enough to reach your goal, maybe the boss will shave his head!
- In Memory – Honour a loved one by raising money to feed your neighbours
- For an “a-thon” – Maybe it’s snowshoeing across the province, skipping rope all day, or a dance-a-thon, you can collect pledges online
Questions? Contact Mike at 905-270-5589 x227 or email@example.com.
7 Ways to Support The Mississauga Food Bank this Holiday Season
Here is our list of the top ways you can support the food bank this Holiday!
|1. Attend our Open House – tonight! From 5:00-8:00pm, you’re welcome to drop in for a warm drink and a cookie or two, and get a behind-the-scenes tour of food bank operations! Families are very welcome, and there won’t be any cost or solicitation. Get all the details here. (Can’t come tonight? Don’t worry, we’ll have another tour in February and each month after that.)||
|2. Make a financial donation. The food bank is an organization FOR the community, supported BY the community. In fact, 95% of our financial income comes from generous members of the community, with only 5% coming from the regional government. Remember, for every $2 you give, we can distribute food for 5 wholesome meals. And you’ll receive a 2016 tax receipt right away if you donate online.|
|3. Donate food. 85% of the 1.5 million pounds of food we give out every year is donated. And it takes all of us to make sure there’s enough! So check out our most needed items (and ‘not needed’ items) and drop off some food to your local fire station or to us here at the food bank. Involving your kids is a great way to teach them about giving back!||
|4. Organize a food drive. Events of all sizes play an important part in raising awareness about hunger in Mississauga and providing the food we need to feed our hungry neighbours. Maybe even make it a friendly competition between colleagues, departments or classes! We have tools to help you (like posters and collection boxes) and a staff person (Mike) dedicated to making your event a success! All the information is available here on our website.||
|5. Organize a fundraiser. In the same way as making a donation ensures we can distribute all that food, fundraisers are a great way to work together with others to raise even more! Fundraisers are limited only by your imagination – garage sales, scavenger hunts, charity dinners…almost anything! Feel free to use your own ideas, or take a look at some of ours. Mike is available to help you with these too. All the information is available here on our website.||
|6. Fundraise Online. My Own Fundraiser allows you to set up your own fundraising page, and send emails to your network inviting them to make a donation – then watch as you move up the thermometer towards your fundraising goal! It’s SO easy – and it can be used for almost anything! You can participate in a race. Organize a bake sale. Fundraise on behalf of a loved one. Invite friends to donate in lieu of birthday or holiday gifts. There are so many ways to ensure no one goes hungry! Get started with your own fundraiser today.||
|7. Spread the Word. Some people don’t know that there’s hunger in our city. So learn a little bit more about the face of hunger in Mississauga, and tell someone else what you learned. It takes all of us to feed our hungry neighbours – so spread the word!|
AquaGrow Farms Has Launched!
To meet this increasing demand, the food bank has launched its newest program as a creative method of sourcing fresh protein and produce. With the inauguration of this project, we are the first food bank in Canada to open an aquaponics farm!
AquaGrow Farms will produce approximately 645 servings of fish and over 10,000 servings of greens each year. All of the fish and greens will be distributed to member agencies across Mississauga. From there they will be given to hungry members of the community who otherwise would have limited access to fresh, healthy food.
“We are committed to providing our clients with access to healthy and fresh food. We are proud to launch AquaGrow Farms to draw attention the need for fresh food by those who live in poverty”, said Executive Director, Chris Hatch. “By opening this farm, we hope to inspire others to get involved in finding creative solutions to fight hunger in our communities.”
- our funder – Ontario Trillium Foundation
- MPP Damerla’s office
- the vendor and training company who has been so instrumental to our launch – Nelson + Pade
- Donors, volunteers, and other community stakeholders joined us to hear more about this innovative project.
YOU Can Get Involved By:
- Donating healthy food items to food drives, ensuring nutritious options for our hungry neighbours
- Giving financial donations to help The Mississauga Food Bank purchase and source additional healthy foods
- Come for a visit! We hold interactive, educational tours every 3rd Wednesday of every month at 6:00pm. Please RSVP to Colin Cotton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 905-270-5589 x231. If you are interested in bringing a school, corporate or community group for a tour at another time, please contact Colin to arrange a date and time. We even have a specialized tour just for kids!
- Volunteering: Please visit our Volunteer Calendar to register for any posted AquaGrow Farms volunteer opportunities.
- Stay up-to-date at themississaugafoodbank.org/aquagrow