The Aubrey & Marla Dan Foundation has been creating meaningful social change in Ontario for over 20 years. Now alongside Second Harvest, the partnership aims to make monumental community improvements, such as improving the access to food in all communities. We spoke with Alyse Bernbaum, Executive Director of the Aubrey & Marla Dan Foundation recently to get her thoughts and insights.
Q1: Tell us about the Aubrey & Marla Foundation and what inspired to support Second Harvest?
The Aubrey & Marla Dan Foundation (AMDF) has been supporting initiatives and creating social change across Ontario since 2002. We’ve funded more than 200 organizations and reached over 200,000 people. In 2018, we began focusing our priorities on mental health and homelessness. Our efforts touch the lives of vulnerable youth, girls, women, marginalized communities, and families.
We began supporting Second Harvest in 2021, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. At that time, not only across Toronto and Ontario, but throughout Canada and globally, we were seeing the increasing needs for access to food. With 5.6 million Canadians experiencing food insecurity annually, together with the role that access to safe, consistent food has on one’s overall well-being and mental health, moved us to act. Partnering with Second Harvest greatly aligned with our AMDF values.
Q2: The Aubrey & Marla Dan Foundation has made a tremendous impact with so many organizations, including Second Harvest. How does supporting Second Harvest reflect your foundation’s values?
We believe that individuals and communities deserve to be living a healthy, confident, inspired, and successful life. We place value on ensuring equal opportunities and access to healthcare, mental health resources, housing, and educational supports. Each organization that we support shares our values and drives our mission further.
Second Harvest’s approach to hunger relief, food rescue, and making a positive social impact creates sustainable change and gives back to the community. We also believe in collaboration and working together – Second Harvest partners with several organizations that we support such as SKETCH Working Arts, Workman Arts, Eva’s Initiatives, Youth Without Shelter, Covenant House, and Weston Frontlines. Together, we really are strengthening our impact!
Q3: What does Second Harvest’s vision of a world with “No Waste. No Hunger” mean to the Aubrey & Marla Dan Foundation?
Second Harvest’s vision aligns with our values of creating equal opportunities for everyone to have access to living a healthier, safer life. When individuals have access to critical resources, such as a basic need and right of food, we see their physical and mental health improve. This is especially important when it comes to youth and their development. Second Harvest’s vision helps AMDF to continue our efforts of prevention and early intervention.
Q4: How has supporting Second Harvest impacted you personally?
When I was in high school, I volunteered with Second Harvest delivering and handing out nonperishable food items. During this time, I met people who rely on these types of critical services and turned to Second Harvest to access their next meal. This time always stayed with me, and I feel as though things are coming full circle as we become long-term partners.
Q5: If you could say one thing to people or other organizations who are considering supporting Second Harvest, what would it be?
We know the relationship between access to food and an individual’s overall wellbeing. In knowing this, we cannot ignore the immense need to access the types of resources that Second Harvest is providing. In 2022 alone, Harvest Kitchens distributed over 612,000 meals – AMDF is so proud to partner with such an amazing organization that has far-reaching impact.
If your company is interested in helping Second Harvest make positive social, environmental, and economic impact we’d love to hear from you. Whether you are looking for ways to get your company and employees involved in philanthropy, or become a leader in corporate social responsibility, you’ve found the right partner in Second Harvest. More information here.