Impacts of COVID-19 have been immense. On the top of the list for too many Canadians is greater food insecurity. We at St. Philip’s Lutheran Church noticed the needs for food growing in the neighbourhood around us. A nearby food bank had closed, the calls to the church for food had increased and our neighbourhood partner organizations told us about increased concerns among their clients.
So we made a decision to pivot from our summer program ‘The Neighbourhood Table’ to ‘The Neighbourhood Table at Home’.
“We delivered COVID-19 response emergency Good Food boxes from FoodShare”
With our two partners, The Arab Community Centre of Toronto and Polycultural Immigration and Community Services, we identified the most needy families within proximity of the church. With funding from the Eastern Synod Mission Grant, our own fund-raising efforts and a $10,000 grant through Good Food Access Fund, we were able to scope our program for 65 families for 8 weeks.
On Thursdays, a FoodShare truck pulled into our parking lot mid-afternoon. The driver unloaded 65 produce boxes filled with fresh vegetables and fruits along with loaves of fresh bread. At 4pm, 12 driving teams arrived, got their route maps and headed out.
And in an effort to build community with the families we included family-friendly activities around food. For example, this is the little planting kit that went out in week one. Other fun and educational resources for children and adults were available on Google Classroom. We encouraged engagement on social media with our #NHTathome.
Additional funding from Good Food Access Fund acquired late in the program will allow us to wrap up with the delivery of $150 of grocery gift cards to each family.
Our volunteer drivers can absolutely attest to the gratitude of the families. They also expressed their own gratitude to be part of a community effort in the time of COVID. If there is any uncertainty about whether the program made a difference in the lives of these families, you just need to know about one phone call. My cell phone rang on a Thursday afternoon two weeks after we had finished our 8- week program. A young child told me his mom had asked him to call and ask why we had not delivered boxes in the past two weeks?
Rev. Tuula Van Gaasbeek