St. Ann’s Food Bank is a ministry run through St. Ann’s Parish in downtown Toronto that assists those in need both within the parish and the surrounding area. A member agency of the Daily Bread Food Bank, it has been helping Torontonians since February 2005. In light of the high cost of food, coordinator Carlos Carreiro reflects on the work of this much-needed parish ministry on the eve of Thanksgiving weekend.
1. The cost of food has soared – with “food inflation” the highest it’s been in four decades. What impact has this had on the food bank at St. Ann’s Parish?
There has been an increase in demand, but we’ve been able to keep up with the need through an increase in our food donations from our weekly suppliers and donations from friends and contacts.
2. How many people does the food bank serve every week?
On average, we serve 330 people per week. Prior to the pandemic, we helped approximately 280 people on a weekly basis.
3. As this food bank is a parish ministry, what does it take for the volunteers to bring this together every week?
We have volunteers that receive our deliveries on Fridays and then other volunteers that set up and serve the clients on Saturdays. We require on average 30 volunteers on a weekly basis. We have a roster of about 50 volunteers of which one-fifth are parishioners. The rest are friends and neighbours.
4. How did the food bank start?
The food bank started Feb. 5, 2005, by my wife and I and another couple. We felt there was a need in our community for this type of outreach program.
5. As we celebrate Thanksgiving, what perspective can you offer on the precious nature of food for many in the city?
We take for granted the food that we have in our homes during this period and also the amount of food waste. The good thing is that there has been a strong awareness of this waste in our homes and across the food industry, which has led to an increase in food rescue efforts.
6. How can community members make a donation or help?
They can drop off non-perishable food items or make a financial donation for the food bank at St. Ann’s Church or make an online donation at https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/107910259RR0029-st-anns-church/campaign/st-ann-food-back/.
We give thanks, in a special way at this time of year, for all those who are involved in ensuring that food is available for those in need. Thanks to the St. Ann’s Food Bank team for making a difference!