London·Sounds of the Season

Fundraiser aims to gather more than 443,000 pounds of food

Londoners were getting into the giving spirit over the weekend, with the launch of the Business Cares Food Drive at 26 grocery stores across the city.

The Business Cares Food Drive kicked off on Friday

Wayne Dunn has been at the helm of the Business Cares Food Drive since its inception twenty years ago, when it gathered 36,000 pounds of food for the London Food Bank. (Liny Lamberink/CBC London)

In the corner of a south London warehouse, dozens of massive cardboard boxes full to the brim with crackers, juice and noodles are waiting to be distributed to people in need this holiday season.

CBC London kicked off its annual fundraiser, Sounds of the Season, on Monday. But, Londoners were already getting into the giving spirit over the weekend, with the launch of the Business Cares Food Drive at 26 grocery stores across the city.

Business Cares campaign chair, Wayne Dunn, said donations – food and monetary – will continue pouring in from 400 London businesses until Dec. 20.

"The bad news is, it'll all be gone by mid-January," he said. "That's how much food is needed and required at the London Food Bank."

Last year, Business Cares collected 443,000 pounds of food for people dealing with food insecurity. That's a significant growth from its debut 20 years ago, when the food drive gathered 36,000 pounds.

"Our goal every year is to go one pound more," Dunn said.

Volunteers helped unload food donations from more than two dozen vehicles into this warehouse in south London on Monday. (Liny Lamberink/CBC London)

"Twenty years later, it's probably twenty times the size of what it was. Good thing we have a great community around to support this," he said. 

I don't think [my son] realized or I realized what people take for granted sometimes.- Zac Machado

Dunn has been helping lead the fundraiser since its inception, but Zac Machado is a more recent recruit. He got involved four years ago, after his two sons did some of their community hours at the London Food Bank.

 "It opened my eyes," he said. "The London Food Bank was bringing in fresh produce and I remember my son talking to me about how he had to ration, and people were asking for produce and weren't able to [get some] because they were trying to spread that out evenly, as best they could."

"I don't think he realized or I realized what people take for granted sometimes."

Zac Machado (left) and Ryan Pedlow (right) unload a trailer of food donations from one of the 26 grocery stores that participated in the Business Cares Food Drive over the weekend. (Liny Lamberink/CBC London)

It was Breanne Cannon's first time volunteering during the Business Cares Food Drive. The Fanshawe student is pursuing a post-graduate certificate in social services, and hopes to work with the homeless someday.

"Food programs are so important, especially in London," Cannon added, noting the city's high poverty rate. 

She hopes Londoners get out and volunteer their time.

"It feels good," she said. "Going somewhere, showing up, knowing someone is relying on me and knowing I'm helping them. I think that's what pushes me."

CBC London will be hosting a community celebration on Friday, Dec. 20, when London Morning and Afternoon Drive invite you to be part of the live audience. 

Rebecca Zandbergen and the rest of the London Morning crew will be broadcasting live from the foyer of the Central Library with live music and inspirational stories of hope and resilience from 6 to 9 a.m.

Chris dela Torre will host his show live from Wolf Performance Hall at the library, beginning at 4 p.m.