9 food banks set to open at libraries across Toronto

Apr 8 2020, 9:53 am

Toronto Public Library is partnering with various food banks across the city to help distribute food for communities in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There will be nine food bank library locations, with six already open, partnering with North York Harvest Food Bank, Daily Bread Food Bank, and Second Harvest.

Albion Library was the first to open on March 25 and is an appointment-only system, a spokesperson for the library system told Daily Hive.

“Community members must call in advance to make an appointment for the food bank. This will ensure that there is enough food available for everyone in need.”

Residents can call North York Harvest Food Bank’s referral line 416-635-7771 or send an email.

Five other locations have opened with limited hours during the week and three more sites  will be set-up and open sometime next week.

“We’ve partnered with the North York Harvest Food Bank, Daily Bread Food Bank, and Second Harvest to set up food bank distribution from library branches across the city. Staff are proud to support the City’s broader work on food security,” Toronto Public Library said on social media.

The nine library pop up food bank locations are:

  • Albion, 1515 Albion Road (appointment required)
  • Agincourt, 155 Bonis Avenue (Fridays, 2 pm to 4 pm)
  • Cedarbrae, 545 Markham Road (Tuesdays, 2 pm to 4 pm)
  • Eatonville 430 Burnhamthorpe Road (Fridays, 2 pm to 4p m)
  • Kennedy/Eglinton 2380 Eglinton Avenue East (Tuesdays, 2 pm to 4 pm)
  • Steeles, 107-375 Bamburgh (Fridays, 2 pm to 4 pm)
  • Don Mills, 888 Lawrence Avenue East (not yet open)
  • Jane/Sheppard, 1906 Sheppard Avenue West (not yet open)
  • Taylor Memorial, 1440 Kingston Road (not yet open)

In order to deliver the food, Toronto Public Library transformed their book delivery and sorting hub at Ellesmere/Kennedy for food bank support, with physical distancing embedded in the design.

This delivery hub received 27 skids of food last week, and two shifts of library staff have been sorting the food into hampers for delivery at library locations where other library staff distribute food to families in need.

The public library system said the response for volunteer library staff to support this community initiative has been “overwhelming” and is endorsed by the library’s Workers Union Local 4948.

According to the library system, staff from North York Harvest Food Bank, Daily Bread Food Bank, and Second Harvest have also been “incredibly helpful” in supporting Toronto Public Library set-up and operate these sites.

“We are incredibly proud to be partnering with North York Harvest Food Bank, Daily Bread Food Bank and Second Harvest to help lessen the impact of COVID-19 on food insecurity on our city,” Vickery Bowles, City librarian said.

“Our library branches are community hubs, and our staff are dedicated public servants committed to supporting those communities, so redirecting library resources to help address this critical need makes so much sense.”

On Monday, Mayor John Tory acknowledged the work being done with Toronto Public Library and said that more than 40% of food bank programs have closed during the pandemic.

“Food programs are continuing to operate under immense pressure to meet the increased demand,” Tory said.

He also mentioned that the city’s corporate partners have stepped up to help ensure that community food programs in Toronto — including food banks, multi-service centres, home delivery programs, and meal drop-ins — can continue.

Sobeys Inc. donated approximately 7,030 cases of food and Loblaw Companies Limited has provided $30,000 of food credit.

Kraft Heinz Canada has donated more than 3,650 cases of baby food, with additional quantities anticipated soon.