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Volunteers set up drive-thru food bank in Vaughan parking lot for second weekend in a row
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Sunday, May 3, 2020 1:47PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, May 3, 2020 3:45PM EDT
The parking lot at the shuttered Vaughan Mills shopping centre has been converted into a drive-thru foodbank as volunteers hand out care packages to hundreds of families in need for the second weekend in a row.
Volunteers with Hand Up Toronto, which is an organization that was created to help address issues around food insecurity arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, are expected to hand out grocery care packages to about 600 families today after doing the same last weekend.
They say that so far more than 20,000 families have already signed up for their help, though the organization isn’t able to distribute grocery care packages to all of those people at this point.
“We are not providing families with just three or four days’ worth of food. By giving them all the staples and the basics that the need to cook healthy meals at home we are able to give them a few weeks’ worth of food,” Rahul Singh, whose organization Global Medic is helping to coordinate the massive efforts, told CP24. “We are going to push out about 12,000 to 13,000 pounds of food from this site alone today.”
Singh said that there is a “tidal wave of need right now” for programs that provide food to families in need, which are why programs like the one taking place outside Vaughan Mills shopping centre are important.
He said that the target right now is to eventually distribute grocery care packages to 1,000 families at locations across the city every single weekend, though he said that is a need for additional funding to expand the program beyond that.
“If we can move sites like this around and reach the east, the west and then get into the suburbs we will be able to reach more of those families efficiently, cost effectively and most importantly get them aid right away,” he said.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce, who represents the riding where Vaugham Mills shopping centre is located, was also in attendance on Sunday to lend a hand to volunteers.
Speaking with reporters, he hailed the efforts of those taking part and said that it comes at a time "when we need more generosity."
Lecce also said that he is hopeful that the $200 million that his government has earmarked for social services during the COVID-19 pandemic will similarly make a difference for Ontarians.
“We are hoping that the monies we have unveiled will really reach the ground. Right now I think the great challenge for governments is making sure that money is really getting into the homes and the communities that need it most, so we have to really expedite our efforts to get money to where it is needed,” he said. “Obviously there is great demand from families in Ontario and it is not their fault that they are in this situation. That is why government exist, to be that compassionate support for them.”