Toronto

Scarborough food bank brimming with donations after public plea for help

A food bank in Scarborough says it is in a better position to help people in need now that members of the local community responded to a photo on Twitter of empty shelves.

Photo of bare shelves drew response, Agincourt Community Services Association says

Lee Soda, executive director of the Agincourt Community Services Association, says the community came through. (CBC)

A food bank in Scarborough says it is in a better position to help people in need now that members of the local community responded to a photo on Twitter of empty shelves.

In recent weeks, donations had dwindled at the food bank that is part of the Agincourt Community Services Association. 

The food bank, located at the Dorset Park Community Hub, was in desperate need of food and it made a public plea for donations. The food bank serves about 650 people a week.

Lee Soda, executive director of the Agincourt Community Services Association, said the community came through. Several trucks, organized by a former Scarborough resident, dropped off goods at the food bank on Tuesday.

"This is something that people need all year around," Soda told CBC Toronto on Tuesday. "People come to us, not just during Thanksgiving and the holidays, but at every time of the year."

Soda said summer can be difficult for food banks because the food donations slow down. School is not in session and children are not organizing food drives. As well, food banks receive fewer donations from faith-based centres in the summer when families are on holidays.

"The summer, in particular, is a very low time of donations for us. We get a wealth of donations coming in through community around Thanksgiving, during the holidays. People are always cognizant of giving during the holidays," she said.

"Typically, donations really, really fall in the summer months. And that's where we are right now."

A few weeks ago, the food bank was in a "dire situation," she said.

"We were really worried. We were worried that we weren't able to actually give food to those in the most need in our community. The need is great in this great city of ours."

People unload boxes of food brought to the food bank on Tuesday. (CBC)

Staff estimate the supplies on its shelves, now brimming with food, will last about a week.

Former Scarborough resident answered call for help

George Scorsis, a resident who grew up in Scarborough, said he saw the photo posted on Twitter and decided he had to help. He arranged for the trucks to come with donations from local businesses.

"That really struck a chord," he said of the photo on Twitter.

"That was really a moment of awareness and also a call to action. We said, 'We need to do this. It's our duty. This community gave to us. We need to give back,'" he said.

Soda said a typical food bank patrons "look like you and I." Toronto is made up of "haves" and "have-nots." The food bank, one of the largest in Scarborough, serves a large part of the district on the eastern edge of Toronto.

"The need is real," she added. "I really hope that people understand that everyone is not okay. The people who are not okay are all amongst us, in all neighbourhoods and in all walks of life. We all need to do our part."

With files from Ali Chiasson, Muriel Draaisma

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