SHINING A LIGHT: The People Behind Canada’s Hunger Relief

by | Dec 10, 2021 | Community, Hunger Relief

Behind every hunger relief statistic is a person. And a story. The millions of Canadians experiencing food insecurity are our fellow neighbours, co-workers, friends, and community members. Imagine the same number of people living in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta combined are all fed by charitable organizations across the country

The organizations that rise up to meet this outstanding need, feeding our fellow Canadians, are run by dedicated workers and volunteers, working tirelessly to support their community members. Our recent research, Canada’s Invisible Food Network, revealed that there are some 61,000 non-profit organizations and charities of all kinds, from schools, temples and churches to food banks and shelters, that provide food at no or low cost. That is four times the number of grocery stores in Canada. 

This past fiscal year, Second Harvest helped feed an estimated 4.2 million Canadians at over 3,000 charities and non-profits from coast to coast thanks to our dedicated supporters—generous grocers, business owners, farmers, organizations, foundations, and of course, people, and community members themselves.

In the spirit of the holiday season, we are shining a light on the people behind Canada’s outstanding hunger relief efforts. They are the ones who are doing the life-giving work of feeding Canadians in a time of need and helping to protect our environment against the impacts of food waste. 

Here are but a few of their stories from this past year. They are stories of hope, need, care, and community to inspire and warm your heart this giving season. 

Meet the People Behind Canada’s Hunger Relief Efforts

Feed Nova Scotia Turns Gift Donation Into Meals 

“For the thousands of Nova Scotians who struggle with food insecurity, your gift of 17,215 kgs of food represents the goodness of Spring. Thank you so much for caring, and for supporting our work. One in six households in Nova Scotia is food insecure, meaning they have inadequate or insecure access to food because of financial constraints. Food insecurity can be devastating to someone’s emotional and physical health. We know because we hear first-hand from people who live it. We also hear about the difference it makes when people have access to food support through our network of food banks, shelters and meal programs across the province. This month alone, we’ll provide our neighbours across the province with a million dollars worth of food, as we continue to push for long-term change. It’s a big job, and it’s only possible with supporters like you by our side. Thank you for providing comfort, hope and possibility this Spring.”  

—Nick, Feed Nova Scotia, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

Providing Healthy Meals to BC Families in the Pandemic

Shining a light on Canada's hunger relief efforts across the country
Caption: Image from Agassiz-Harrison Community Services food bank

“For the last year Agassiz-Harrison Community Services has been providing meals to families through our It Takes A Village family dinner program. And through that program, we would feed an average of 25-35 people on a very tight budget. When everything happened with COVID-19 we knew we wanted to keep these meals going and support our families. We had no idea what it would mean to our community. We are now serving 65-75 people every Monday night but still have the same budget! We were quickly becoming victims of our own success and were going to start having to turn people away. Thank goodness for Second Harvest! We now have enough to get us through the next several months and are able to say ‘yes’ to every family who needs a meal! Our clients are so grateful and so are we.” 

Shining a Light: The people behind the hunger relief - Agassiz Community Services

“One client said, ‘I am a busy mom with an infant and a 4-year-old and my husband is never home at dinnertime. Not having to worry about making dinner solo once a week has been so helpful. We loved the community interaction that went with the dinner. Since COVID, we are even more appreciative of this service, as it is harder to get groceries with a family in tow. Our household income is being significantly impacted by the pandemic, having one healthy meal a week provided is such a blessing.’” 

—Andra, Agassiz-Harrison Community Services

Shining a Light on a Hopeful, Generous Season

Ross Robinson of The John Howard Society of Brandon, in Brandon, Manitoba served over 15,000 hot and nutritious chef-inspired meals to folks in need during COVID-19. When Second Harvest contacted him to see if his community could use surplus food in the area, Robinson put the offer out. The need was profound and the response was immediate. Many local programs, especially schools, needed food and the surplus donations were coming in the nick of time. 

As a message to generous donors who made it all possible, he said, “You single-handedly make a difference to thousands of people every week through your generosity.”  

The Generous Food Donors Supporting Canada’s Hunger Relief

Second Harvest is blessed with 4,500 generous food donors who share in our mission of no waste, no hunger. Together, and with an army of logistics support (as you’ll soon read), we connect these outstanding donors with surplus food to those organizations and people who need it.

For instance, the Sobeys warehouse in Manitoba had a major food donation this past year for Second Harvest. Traffix Logistics generously provided the transportation, delivering the food to Winnipeg School Districts. A Traffix’s delivery team member wrote:

“I want to say that this program and the Second Harvest initiative, hold a very special place in my heart. Growing up, my mother was a struggling single mother of two. We often didn’t have enough money for food…We often had to use community resources, such as food banks, to survive the month. It is now, as a mother with a young daughter, that I realize how difficult it must have been for my mother and now for other families who struggle day in and day out.”

Shining a light on Canada's hunger relief efforts across the country
Caption: Image from Saskatoon Friendship Inn

Canadians Helping Canadians in a Time of Need

The Honourable Bernard Davis, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change said, “The simple act of reducing, reusing and recycling our waste can have a tremendous impact in protecting our environment and supporting people in our communities in unique ways.” This statement couldn’t ring more true for us and our supporters. 

It is our hope—and our mission—that every Canadian who experiences food insecurity will be fed through this circle of kindness. 

Second Harvest is dedicated to continuing to look for opportunities to further serve our communities. We will continue to lobby and campaign against unnecessary food loss and waste and its harmful impact on our environment and people. We are hopeful for the future of our food systems and food security. 

With your generous support, we look forward to another year of working with the inspiring people behind Canada’s hunger relief efforts. Thank you.

Read more about how far your support went this past fiscal year in our post, Hope in numbers: 4.2M Canadians fed with 41M lbs of surplus food.

Second Harvest 2021 Impact Report
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