$784,000 raised is short of Thanksgiving drive’s $1 million goal set by Mississauga’s largest food bank

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Published October 25, 2023 at 1:30 pm

Food Banks Mississauga Thanksgiving Drive 2023
Food Banks Mississauga officials say the need in Mississauga and beyond is greater than ever.

The Mayor’s City-Wide Thanksgiving Drive has again come up well short of its financial target, but officials with Mississauga’s largest food bank say the money that has been raised will help those in need in a big way.

In telling City of Mississauga council today that the ninth annual drive raised $783,963, significantly short of its $1 million goal, Food Banks Mississauga CEO Meghan Nicholls said the most recent influx of cash will immediately help get nutritious food out to the more than 60 agencies under the FBM umbrella.

Collectively, those organizations served 15,969 people in need in Mississauga in September, a 46 per cent increase from the same month in 2022.

And those numbers are rapidly increasing, according to Nicholls, who predicts Mississauga will see 19,000 people per month using food banks in the near future.

“We no longer see ups and downs (in terms of) when people use the food bank the most, month to month,” Nicholls told councillors, noting that a steady monthly stream of 19,000 food bank users will soon be the norm in Canada’s seventh-largest city.

Also, FBM’s latest annual report shows that the organization is providing meals for 82 per cent more people today than it did prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The same “crisis” situation is being played out in communities across Canada, FBM and city officials add, with more than two million Canadians using food banks each month.

Mississauga’s Thanksgiving drive ran from Sept. 11 through Oct. 15. Last year’s effort raised $706,392, less than half of the drive’s $1.5 million objective.

“While we are appreciative and thankful for the gifts received, we were not able to meet our goal this year. Despite falling short of the goal, the community made valiant efforts to try and meet the need that continues to increase,” said Nicholls, who’s pleading with the community to dig even deeper to help as winter approaches. “We’ve heard many stories of previous donors who have been forced to turn to us for food as inflation and the cost of living continue to impact people’s livelihoods. For those of us who are able, I urge you to make a stretch gift, especially with the cold weather around the corner. Whether through a monthly gift or participating in our upcoming Holiday Drive, please give as you are able.”

Food Banks Mississauga CEO Meghan Nicholls addresses city council on Wednesday.

Mississauga acting Mayor Chris Fonseca said Thanksgiving drive organizers knew the $1 million goal was bold and would be tough to reach.

“The point of this was to underscore that our community cannot simply do it alone,” she said. “Now with unprecedented new pressures facing food banks — increases in food prices, a growing dependence from newcomers and refugees, growing housing costs — we call on other levels of government to step in and provide much-needed financial supports.”

Fonseca added that the need is greater than ever and “it really is all hands on deck. We need to be joining together to work toward food security for everyone.”

Noting that one in 20 Mississauga residents are now using a food bank to put food on the table for their families, Nicholls said that “poverty is deeper in our country than it’s ever been.”

She concluded with a plea not only to residents and businesses, but more pointedly to upper levels of government.

“Hear the alarm bells we keep ringing and respond quickly,” she said.

Moving forward, Nicholls said FBM is encouraging those who want to help to give financial donations instead of food.

She noted FBM has ample access to food “further back in the supply chain” and that financial donations from people would go much farther than if they spent more money on food themselves to give to food banks.

“People’s money can go farther (with us finding the food) as opposed to people spending their money at the grocery store.”

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