Mississauga’s main food bank so busy that it’s moving into new 43,000-sq.-ft. building


Published March 2, 2023 at 8:42 am

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The good news, officials with Mississauga’s main food bank say, is that the much larger building they’re moving into on April 3 will make it easier to store and distribute food to those in need across the city.

The bad news, they add, is that the need of so many people in Canada’s seventh-largest city is so great–and growing fast–that the 43,000-sq.-ft. facility at 4544 Eastgate Pkwy. is needed at all.

The Mississauga Food Bank CEO Meghan Nicholls, whose organization has a network of more than 50 agencies across the city, has appeared before City council on several occasions the past six months or so to “sound the alarm” and talk about the pressing and growing need of the many Mississauga residents who cannot put enough food on the table for their families.

Nicholls said earlier that the food bank is growing so rapidly that it must move to the much larger location, just south of Eglinton Ave.

The organization has seen an almost 60 per cent increase in food bank users from before the pandemic and serves more than 30,000 people in need annually in Mississauga.

“This physical relocation comes at a time of urgent need where food bank usage has risen by almost 60 per cent since 2019 and is only continuing to rise,” The Mississauga Food Bank said in an email on Wednesday announcing the date of its move.

“Our new, larger space will expand our capacity to store the amount of food required to distribute to our network of over 50 agencies, provide more fresh and frozen food to our community and keep our programs running smoothly.”

The food bank’s current location, on Universal Dr., will remain up and running in the meantime, officials say, with the exception of the week of March 27-31.

“Our team is working hard to minimize service disruption to ensure we continue to provide healthy and appropriate food to neighbours in need,” the organization said.

Food bank officials were pleased, though, with the record-setting results from the latest holiday season food drive named for Mayor Bonnie Crombie.

The Mayor’s 2022 Holiday Food Drive raised record amounts of money and food between November and early January.

The food drive blew past its goals by raising $1.96 million and 647,904 pounds of food during the campaign. Sponsored by Nissan Canada Foundation, the drive had sought to raise $1.7 million and 450,000 pounds of food for some of Mississauga’s most vulnerable residents.

Food bank officials say the record-setting effort comes at a vital time as The Mississauga Food Bank continues to see record-breaking numbers.

In November 2022, the highest-ever number of monthly users visited The Mississauga Food Bank and its network of more than four dozen agencies. Since January 2022, the food bank has seen 18 per cent more food bank users every month, on average, compared to the same time the previous year.

“Every month that we are breaking a record is not a cause for celebration, but a cause for alarm,” said Nicholls in an earlier news release. “The community heard the alarm and rose to the occasion, showing great generosity and compassion with their donations during Mayor Crombie’s Holiday Food Drive. But this emergency need continues past the holidays, and there is still more work to do to ensure our most vulnerable neighbours no longer face food insecurity.”

Food bank officials in Mississauga have been alerting politicians at all levels of government as more and more city residents need help feeding their families and are falling even deeper into poverty.

Earlier this year, The Mississauga Food Bank joined forces with Food Banks Canada to deliver the urgent message all the way to Ottawa and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s doorstep.

In a letter to the prime minister, the two agencies asked for immediate action to address the fast-growing problem of food insecurity in Mississauga, the GTA and across the country.

The Mississauga Food Bank’s latest numbers show that it distributed food for more than 5.6 million meals in the last year, and that number is expected to grow.

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