Low-income vegetarians in Toronto can now access a wider range of food, thanks to a new food bank operating in downtown Toronto.

On Saturday, the newly launched Toronto Vegetarian Food Bank gave away a month’s worth of kale, avocados, chickpeas and other vegetarian items to about 40 families who struggle to afford food.

The food bank is open on the third Saturday of each month at the Yonge Street Mission, located on Gerrard Street East near Parliament Street.

Matt Noble, the food bank’s director, says vegetarians often turn to unhealthy foods or animal products because fresh fruits and vegetables are scarce at regular food banks.

“When they are available, they don’t last very long, which leaves vegetarians or vegans with little to choose from,” he said in a video appeal on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo.com.

The fundraising campaign generated $10,000 from 75 donors, which Noble says is enough to keep the food bank running once a month for several months.

For some, being vegetarian is a lifestyle choice, but others have dietary restrictions limiting the foods they can eat.

Peter, who attended the food bank on Saturday, said he has special dietary requirements that necessitate a plant-based diet.

“I go to a normal food bank, but they give me lots of bread and lots of things with sugar in it,” Peter said.

One woman who used the service Saturday told CTV Toronto that she recently lost her job, and was pleasantly surprised to learn it existed.

“To continue to be able to make healthy choices despite my situation is a blessing,” she said.

With a report from CTV Toronto’s Carol Charles