'This is an absolutely critical time': Food bank puts up tent to ensure food donations amid COVID-19
A tent is put up outside of the Daily Bread Food Bank on March 16, 2020. (Francis Gibbs/CTV News Toronto)
TORONTO -- A Toronto food bank has placed a tent outside their now-isolated building in Etobicoke to safely give out food to vulnerable families amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The building, located on New Toronto Street and Islington Avenue, is accessible to the public and therefore poses a higher risk of transmission of the virus.
Last week, city and provincial officials effectively shut down most public buildings and tourist attractions. Canadian health officials have also urged the public to practice “social distancing” and to avoid large gatherings.
Instead of completely closing down, the Daily Bread Food Bank has isolated the physical building it operates out of and has divided its staff and volunteers into inside and outside workers. Partnering with GlobalMedic, the organization has set up a tent outside where food will be accessible to those who need it without requiring them to enter the facility.
“Each week there is about 15,000 families already relying on food banks and if we do not keep this network going, people go hungry,” Neil Hetherington, CEO of Daily Bread Food Bank, said.
“This is an absolutely critical time for the Daily Bread,” he said. “Right now, we know the average Daily Bread Food Bank user has $7 and 83 cents to live on after paying rent. There is no option for them to be able to stockpile food.”
GlobalMedic said the tent donated is an emergency field hospital tent, often used after a natural disaster to provide shelter and relief.
“We don’t want them to lose their facility,” GlobalMedic Executive Director Rahul Singh said. “There’s hundreds upon thousands of people that experience poverty in the city that need access to food banks and we want to make sure they continue to have access.”
“It’s the right thing to do. It’s important for us as history will always judge us as a society based on how we take care of our most vulnerable, and right now the most vulnerable are those folks who cannot afford to stockpile a couple weeks’ worth of food. We need to keep these lines of delivery open so that the families in need are fed.”
Hetherington added that anyone looking to help can visit their website to make a donation or schedule an Amazon delivery of food to their facility.