Recipients include Food Banks Canada, Second Harvest, Yonge Street Mission, and Woods Homes
Hunger is part of the COVID-19 crisis. Last year, there were 1.1 million visits to food banks per month, but in the past two weeks alone, there’s been a 20 per cent increase in use, according to Food Banks Canada. As COVID-19 evolves, that number is expected to climb even higher.
“My biggest concern is running out of food in food banks,” said Food Banks Canada CEO Chris Hatch said. “I am fearful of what’s coming around the corner with increased demand, so we’re trying to get additional food and bulk buy at a very large-scale volume and then transport it to the people that need it.”
This sudden spike in demand has put tremendous strain on food banks and community outreach organizations, who are experiencing a shortage of volunteers, staff, and food donations. “Many of the agencies we deliver to have had to shut their doors because they’re run by volunteers,” said Lori Nikkel, CEO of Second Harvest, Canada's largest food rescue organization. “A lot of seniors support non-profits and they’re our most compromised category of people — so we’ve had to change our system.”
In order to comply with Public Health requirements of physical distancing, food banks and community outreach centers have had to adapt their operations. Now, instead of inviting people into their space to shop or share a meal, many have adjusted to meeting clients in designated pick-up spots with pre-packed food boxes. Others have moved to an appointment-only model to minimize crowds and some have even begun doing home deliveries.
“We’re working with partners to ensure we can actually change our system to get meals out to people. We’re trying to figure out solutions to get food right to their hands,” Nikkel said.
It’s obvious that hunger is part of the crisis, especially as many food banks are now facing a food shortage. Food banks “only have a 10 to 14-day supply on average, and [it’s] not being replenished fast enough,” Hatch said.
With stock diminishing so rapidly, it’s made it harder for vulnerable Canadians, such as the elderly, homeless, and people on social assistance or disability supports, to get access to food.
How Starbucks Canada and The Starbucks Foundation are helping
In response to this growing food crisis, Starbucks Canada and The Starbucks Foundation announced that, combined, they will donate over $1 million in food and financial support to help the complex changing realities of food banks and community outreach organizations. This includes helping them shift their operational needs and providing drivers from Starbucks Canada's foodservice distributor GFS (Gordon Food Service) to deliver food to those most in need.
Two-thirds of the support will come from Starbucks Canada in the way of food donations from its distribution centers to help replenish stock in food banks across the country. Assistance will be spread across Canada, helping among others: Moisson Food Bank in Montreal; Second Harvest in Toronto; Calgary Food Bank and Inn from the Cold in Calgary; and Quest Food Exchange, Surrey Food Bank, and Maple Ridge Food Bank in Vancouver.
Included in the over $1 million, The Starbucks Foundation will contribute financial support by donating $280,000 to Food Banks Canada’s COVID-19 Response Fund. This contribution will help provide resources (for example, boxes for pre-packaged food) to local food banks so that they can adapt their operations to comply with physical distancing. It will also allow them to hire more staff to keep up with demand and allow them to replenish their dwindling stock.
Additionally, The Starbucks Foundation will donate $70,000 to Second Harvest. The funds will go towards the organization’s COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund to support the delivery, redistribution, and logistics of the food donation supply chain during the pandemic.
“We are grateful for the support of Starbucks and The Starbucks Foundation to ensure that people can access the food they need to be healthy,” CEO Nikkel said. “This donation helps keep our trucks on the road... to move the food and coordinate where it’s going.”
And finally, Starbucks Canada is donating $24,000 to its existing social agency partners, Yonge Street Mission in Toronto and Woods Homes in Calgary, to help meet their increased demand to produce meals for the vulnerable youth they serve.
Supporting food banks is just one way Starbucks Canada and The Starbucks Foundation are responding to COVID-19. Earlier this month, The Starbucks Foundation donated $200,000 to support COVID-19 drives with hospital foundations across the country, and to support the United Way Centraide’s COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund to ensure vulnerable Canadians have basic needs during the pandemic. Additionally, since March 26, Starbucks Canada has been offering free coffee to first responders as a way to say thank you for the incredible service they’re providing Canadians.
It’s important that we all do what we can to help each other in this time of need. Starbucks is making it easy for its customers to donate to their local food banks, if they can. Visit the Starbucks donation page on Food Banks Canada or find the link on the Starbucks app to donate today. Your contribution will ensure vulnerable Canadians have food now and when the pandemic is over.
About The Starbucks Foundation
The Starbucks Foundation strengthens humanity by transforming lives across the world, with a focus on enabling community resiliency and prosperity and uplifting communities affected by disaster. Established in 1997, The Starbucks Foundation is a Section 501(c)(3) charitable organization under U.S. law. Learn more at here.