Mississauga Thanksgiving Drive kicks off as food insecurity hits record high

Published October 5, 2023 at 1:20 pm

Amid reports of record-high food insecurity, Food Banks Mississauga has officially kicked off its ninth annual Mayor’s City-Wide Thanksgiving Drive.

In partnership with Mayor Bonnie Crombie, the goal for this year is to raise $1,000,000 to continue providing millions of pounds of healthy and appropriate food to neighbours in need.

Donations can be made and food bank volunteers will also be at select grocery stores and Square One on weekends throughout September and October until Thanksgiving. They will be accepting monetary donations alongside urgently needed food and personal care items.

This year’s goal is the largest yet, because the need is greater than ever.

“Five percent of Mississauga’s population lives with food security and relies on a food bank. With the rising cost of food, the demand keeps growing,” says Mayor Crombie. “Our city’s residents need your support like never before.”

Lasting effects of the pandemic and an increase in the cost of living have resulted in a record-breaking number of neighbours facing food insecurity, according to Food Banks Mississauga, which leads a network of 60+ agency members including neighbourhood food banks, pantries, cupboards, meal and snack programs, and emergency food programs.

Among the growing number of people in need are newcomers who’ve fled Ukraine in the last 18 months, many of whom have settled in Mississauga. This has added additional pressure to the food bank, with 12 per cent of its users identifying as Ukrainian.

Over the past 9 years, the campaign has raised $4.5 million and collected 2.5 million pounds of food for Food Banks Mississauga. According to Mayor Crombie, with the rising cost of food, along with the housing crisis, and the demand to step up to support newcomers, the need has never been greater.

The food bank is asking residents to donate however much they can – even just $1 is enough to help the food bank provide healthy and appropriate food for one meal to children, seniors, families, and other neighbours facing food insecurity.

Donations are appreciated, but there are more ways to help! Residents can gather support by organizing a virtual or in-person food drive, joining the Mayor’s Corporate & Community Challenge, or simply spreading the word with resources including posters and on social media.

Last year, Food Banks Mississauga provided over 5.9 million pounds of healthy and appropriate food (a 13 per cent increase from the previous year). That’s healthy food for almost six million meals!

Over 35,000 Mississauga residents (five per cent of the population) visited food banks last year, which is an 18 per cent increase from the previous year. Over half were first-time food bank users, and over 11,000 children accessed a food bank in Mississauga – a 10 per cent increase from the previous year.

Other stats shared by Food Banks Mississauga indicate that:

  • One out of every four food bank users receive income support through the Ontario Disability Support Program
  • Over 70 per cent of food bank users pay market rent for their homes – only eight per cent access subsidized housing

“The need in our community has not slowed down even as we return to a sense of normalcy ‘post-pandemic.’ We now serve 82% more food bank users compared to four years ago,” says Meghan Nicholls, CEO of Food Banks Mississauga.

“As you gather with loved ones this Thanksgiving, please take a moment to think of those who are not sitting down to a full table,” says Mayor Crombie.  “Show how much you have to be grateful for by supporting your neighbours in need.”

To donate online or get more information about this year’s drive, visit the food bank’s website.

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