Michelle Tobin is a Special Education teacher with the Toronto District School Board and Harris Krofchick is an IT project management consultant. They’ve been together for 25 years (“It’s a summer camp fling that never ended,” jokes Michelle), have three children and have travelled to over 30 countries, often witnessing levels of poverty and food insecurity that touched them profoundly. Together, they started a fund that reflects their family’s values, setting up endowments with charities like the North York General Hospital NICU and Second Harvest to ensure that their efforts will continue to help generations down the line.
We asked Harris and Michelle five questions about what motivates these five philanthropists, big and small.
Tell us about the endowment fund and what motivated your family to start it?
We were particularly taken aback at the rising cost of food when the pandemic began, and we all felt the need to stockpile food and supplies. While we felt blessed that we didn’t need to worry about where our next meal would come from, we couldn’t help but think about those who were not as fortunate. We felt helpless with regards to helping others with the increasing cost of food, the demands being placed on the environment and started to research what we could do to help.
We reached out to Second Harvest, as their values of food rescue and redistribution, as well as environmental concerns, so closely matched our own. Creating an endowment was one way that we felt we could help ensure that meals are supplied to those in need on an ongoing basis not only now, but for years to come.
How does supporting Second Harvest reflect your values? What inspired you to give?
There is enough food to go around in the city, but the issue is how it is distributed and preventing it from being thrown away. Our family motto is “respect the farmers” and that goes for how we consume and where we source our food. While we don’t have a direct connection between the grocers and the restaurants who have extra food, teaming up with Second Harvest was an incredible way that we felt we could help get food to those in need.
What do you hope to accomplish through your philanthropy?
In our culture, we put great emphasis on tikkun olam, the process of healing the world. We are blessed to raise three wonderful children, known to many as Team TK. In 2021 Team TK led a meal train through Ve’ahavta outreach vans to feed over 1,000 of Toronto’s most vulnerable. Our oldest son worked with Ve’ahavta for his bar mitzvah project. Rather than simply making sandwiches for those in need, he recruited two other families a month for seven months to assist in sandwich making for the homeless. His goal, in addition to supplying food for those in need, was to raise awareness in our community about how easy it is to help others, and to encourage other families to pass this message forward. We strive to always be aware of others, and not just ourselves, and to teach our children the importance and responsibility of giving back to the community.
What does Second Harvest’s vision of a world with “No Waste. No Hunger” mean to you and your family?
The past year and a half of the pandemic, coupled with the effects of climate change, we became increasingly concerned about food insecurity, food waste and distribution. From wildfires to impacted growing seasons to families out of work due to the lockdowns, Second Harvest’s vision is critical now more than ever. Second Harvest’s ability to connect charities in need with businesses with food that would otherwise be wasted, all the while reducing greenhouse gas emissions is an important step and example for others to reach that vision of No Waste. No Hunger.
What do you wish everyone knew about this cause?
We need to hold corporate citizens more accountable for redistributing all of the wasted food. There is enough for all, and if we all work together, food insecurity should not be an issue that still exists in 2021.