Feeding Our Future ends summer on a high note

Feeding Our Future ends summer on a high note

A typical summer Monday at the Second Harvest warehouse starts early. By 7 a.m., the air is bustling with volunteers prepping vegetables, slicing cheese, packing fruits and forming an assembly line of sandwiches. These will go into the lunch bags for children in summer camps across Toronto as part of our annual Feeding Our Future program.  

Bridging the nutrition gap for children during summer 

During the academic year, over 211,000 students in Toronto participate in Student Nutrition Programs. The goal is to ensure that all children have access to healthy meals to learn and thrive in school, regardless of their economic situation.  

According to recent statistics, there are at least 6.9 million people in Canada experiencing food insecurity in their daily lives, including almost 1.8 million children. This is nearly 20 per cent of the entire population or one out of every five people.  

With persistent inflation, nutrition is increasingly out of reach for many people in Canada. 

Aiming to bridge the nutritional gap for students relying on school for meals during the year, Second Harvest started Feeding Our Future in 2012. Through the program, we deliver lunch bags to free or subsidized summer camps across Toronto five days a week. Each bag contains a sandwich, fruits, juice and healthy snacks.  

“Our deepest gratitude to Second Harvest for the generous provision of healthy and nutritious lunches and snacks for our 135+ camp participants during the seven weeks of our Summer Institute. The daily nutritious lunches and snacks you provided have not only fuelled our campers for their activities but have also instilled valuable lessons about the importance of healthy eating.

Your support has eased the burden on many families who might have otherwise struggled to provide well-balanced meals for their children during their time at camp. Through your generosity, you’ve shown our children that they are valued, that their health matters, and that they deserve the best opportunities possible. Thank you for being an integral part of our camp’s success.” – YAAACE Summer Camp 

Building a healthy and balanced meal 

The menu changes daily but remains consistent week over week. Children have the option of either a meat or a vegetarian sandwich. To ensure a balanced and inclusive meal, we take several factors into consideration, including avoiding common allergens and ingredients that are dietary restrictions for different religious beliefs (for example, choosing roast beef and turkey over pork).  

We also incorporate vegetables like tomatoes, lettuce and cucumbers into the sandwiches and healthy snacks such as oranges, apples or baby carrots.  

“I am happy to share my heartfelt testimonial about the camp lunches that Second Harvest provided during the six weeks of our summer camp. These meals were nothing short of a blessing for our campers and staff. The variety and quality of the food were truly remarkable. Each day, they brought a nourishing lunch that contained fresh fruits, vibrant vegetables, and a diverse range of proteins and grains.   

What stood out most was how Second Harvest catered to different dietary needs. They seamlessly accommodated allergies, preferences, and cultural considerations, ensuring every camper felt included and valued.” – Lady Ballers Camp    

A joint effort to make summer memorable  

This year, with the help of 340 volunteers, who spent almost 960 hours prepping and packing the lunch bags, we delivered over 29,000 sandwiches to 22 camp partners across Toronto. A big thank-you to all of our volunteers and summer assistants!  

We’re also grateful for the support of our generous sponsors and donors, who have made this program a success. Thank you!!! 

5 actions to take during Hunger Action Month

5 actions to take during Hunger Action Month

Every year, we dedicate September to raising awareness about hunger and finding solutions to tackling food insecurity. This Hunger Action Month we’re focused on action. Want to get involved and make a difference in the lives of millions of people in Canada facing food insecurity?  

Here’s a list of actions you can take today!  

1. Be informed

Food insecurity is a persistent issue in Canada and its magnitude is growing. In 2022, about 6.9 million Canadians reported living in food-insecure households, including 1.8 million children. This represents 18.4 per cent of people in the ten provinces, an increase from 15.9 per cent in the year before.  

While food insecurity can happen to anyone, some groups in the population are at higher risk than others, including recent immigrants, Indigenous communities and people from racialized groups, according to the latest Hunger Count report by Food Banks Canada. 

Food insecurity is closely connected to physical, mental and social well-being, but children are especially vulnerable. A new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal showed that children growing up in food-insecure households are more likely to access support services for mental health or substance abuse. 

2. Volunteer

Volunteers play an important role in many non-profits’ operations. Even spending a few hours a month volunteering in your local community can make a difference. No amount of help is too small! Before starting, make sure to attend an information session to learn more about the organization and the positions that suit your skills and interests.  

Second Harvest welcomes individual and group volunteers all year-round for food sorts, events and administrative support. To become a Second Harvest volunteer, submit an application here.  

3. Donate

Hunger Action Month is your opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the millions of people in Canada facing food insecurity with a secure one-time donation. This is your invitation to join our mission – take a stand against hunger today! 

Donations to Second Harvest during Hunger Action Month will be matched by TUMS, up to $75,000. That means for every $10 you donate, $20 will be put into action through Second Harvest, fighting food waste and redistributing healthy surplus food to non-profits all across Canada. 

4. Reduce food waste

Taking action against hunger isn’t just about providing sustenance; it’s a hard-fought battle against waste. Letting good food end up in landfills doesn’t make sense when 6.9 million Canadians struggle to eat.  

The first step to food waste prevention begins at home. All it takes is as simple as shopping for only what you need or making a small change in how you store your produce.  

If you’re running a food business, sign up as a donor on the Second Harvest Food Rescue App. It’s a quick and easy process to connect directly with non-profits in the local community and redirect surplus food to those who need it the most. You can also see the impact of your donation through the app, including the number of meals provided and pounds of greenhouse gases averted from the atmosphere.   

5. Advocate

Advocacy involves keeping yourself informed about policies affecting food security and the food system, adopting a solution-focused mindset and sharing your knowledge with the community around you.  

You can also reach out to your elected officials to show your support for policies that make life more affordable. That includes improving access to housing, nutritious food, as well as ensuring living wages for everyone.