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Corporate donors helping stock Ontario food banks

By Randy Thoms Dec 28, 2023 | 4:39 PM

Christmas hampers ready for distribution by the Salvation Army in Fort Frances, December 11, 2023. Image: Randy Thoms

Some good news for food banks across Ontario as 2023 comes to an end.

Several companies and food associations stepped forward in December with over $800 thousand to help food banks struggling to keep their shelves stocked.

Director of Development and Partnerships for Feed Ontario, Stephanie Ashton-Smith, says the money keeps a food distribution program started during the pandemic.

“It identified a need across the province with some of our food banks where they didn’t have access to fresh pantry staples, fresh food. The program we created was originally done with some government funding that we received at the time. It helps us to ensure equitable distribution across all of the food banks in Ontario,” says Ashton-Smith.

Ashton-Smith says as the government funding was ending, Feed Ontario saw value in it continuing.

A call went out to their corporate community with Metro, Food Basics, Chicken Farmers of Ontario, Dairy Farmers of Ontario, and Toyota Canada making contributions.

“It is an essential lifeline for the food banks across the province. We’re fortunate that a number of partners have really stepped up and seen the need, and they’re coming to the table with some additional cash to help us keep it alive.”

Ashton-Smith says the support from the corporate community has been more important than ever this year.

Individual support is lower than in the past because many are finding it hard to give back while some are becoming new food bank users.

“But the corporate community has continued to be consistent, at least in our situation. They have continued to step up and provide us with the funding that we need to keep these programs running,” says Ashton-Smith.

A recent report from Feed Ontario identified almost 6 million visits to food banks in 2022, marking the seventh consecutive year of increased use.

Feed Ontario provides support to over 1,200 hunger relief agencies across the province, including several in northwestern Ontario.