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‘All food banks would benefit’: Local organizations urge Metro to donate perishable food during strike

Metro says perishable food that could be sold from 27 of its closed grocery stores as a result of the ongoing labour dispute has been transferred to other stores, and food that can’t be sold but is still good to eat will be donated to food banks, however some local organizations fear they won’t benefit.

Meryl Wharton, president of the Allan Gardens Food Bank told CTV News Toronto on Monday that her food bank is feeding 1,100 people on Thursday and Friday, and it would welcome donations from Metro.

Wharton said she never received donations from Metro in the past, and hasn’t heard from any closed Metro stores since the strike began, but is willing to accept any food, anytime.

She described the situation for families right now as “desperate,” and said her food bank is being forced to spilt items like pasta, rice, cereal and eggs between people because it doesn’t have enough for everyone.

In Thorncliffe Park, food security coordinator with TNO Food Collaborative, Nosheen Khan, said their food bank feeds 600 families every two weeks and the need keeps growing.

“I think the perishable food if it can be given to us, would be really helpful, there’s definitely a lot of food waste in our city as it is,” said Khan. “We would totally jump on, and I think all food banks would benefit.”

Khan said based on past experience, it seems complicated and a lot of work for grocery stores to give donations, but if things are different during this strike TNO Food Collaborative would take more food to help families in a heartbeat.

Food security coordinator with TNO Food Collaborative, Nosheen Khan. (Beth Macdonell/CTV News Toronto)

Khan said they are funded by the Daily Bread Food Bank, but it’s always looking for more as it can’t offer everyone the same quantity or quality of food.

“We have a great relationship with Metro so I feel for everybody right now,” said Samantha Cooke, the Daily Bread Food Bank’s Vice-President of Philanthropy. “We also have this fantastic really scary need in the city.”

Cooke said before the pandemic, it had 65,000 client visits a month. It’s now up to 266,000 client visits.

Cooke said the Daily Bread Food Bank is working with Metro to get strike related donations.

“Because of this situation we were in contact with them very quickly, and arranging pickups for as early as tomorrow for food.”

CTV News visited one Metro store in Don Mills Monday. Grocery workers on strike said the produce near the front of the store was gone by the time they showed up for their afternoon shift on the picket line and could see managers clearing the bakery department next. 

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