This year Feed Ontario is marking it’s 30th anniversary and 30 years of impact feeding communities. As we commemorate this milestone, we’re excited to announce that Feed Ontario has been named as a 2022 Top 10 Impact Charity: Canadian Food Banks by Charity Intelligence.
We recognize the ongoing need for food banks three decades later is not something to celebrate. Yet we are very proud of the incredible impact we’ve been able to achieve over the last 30 years. We have proudly worked to together with our member food banks, partners, and supporters.
We also recognize our member food bank in Kingston, Partners in Mission. They were also named as a 2022 Top 10 Impact Charity.
To honour our anniversary and this incredible recognition from Charity Intelligence, here are 30 achievements we’re proud of that your support has enabled (in no particular order).
30 for 30
1. Twelve food banks form the Ontario Association of Food Banks (now Feed Ontario)
In 1992, 12 food banks joined together to share resources and work on solutions to poverty. Today, more than 1,200 hunger relief agencies remain committed to this goal under our new name, Feed Ontario.
2. Feed Ontario’s Fresh Food Programs
Starting with the Milk Program 20 years ago, our Fresh Food Programs in partnership with Ontario’s Agriculture industries were one of the first of their kind in Canada and now also include the Chicken Program, Egg Program, Beef Program, Pork Program, and Turkey Program.
3. SNAP food allocation system
The Smarter Needs Allocation Program (SNAP) was custom built for Feed Ontario to help equitably allocate food resources to member food banks based on number of people served, food bank capacity, current need, and previous food allocations.
4. Link2Feed client intake system
Feed Ontario was the first provincial food bank organization to adopt a digital client intake system to help track, in real time, aggregate data and trends driving food bank use. Developed in Sarnia, Ontario, the program is now being scaled nationally by Food Banks Canada.
5. Shift to a shopping model
To provide dignity of access and choice to food bank visitors, many food banks have shifted away from pre-packed food hampers to a “shopping model.” The shopping model enables visitors to walk through the food bank and select the items they need, like they would in a grocery store. This can be done on a points–based system or by set numbers of items per food category.
6. Network structure and standards
Feed Ontario was one of the first food bank networks in Canada to introduce robust standards of operation and visitor service, as well as a sophisticated network structure to enable equitable support across the province. Feed Ontario members food banks adhere to best practices in safe food handling, operational excellence, and visitor service and care.
7. Farm to Food Program
A first of its kind in Canada, the Farm to Food Program is a collaborative and innovative program aimed at rescuing surplus produce and transforming them into nutritious meals for people facing hunger all across Ontario. The program is a partnership with our member food bank in Windsor, UHC – Hub of Opportunities. It is funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
8. Pandemic response
In the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, a surge in food bank demand, coupled with supply chain challenges and a decrease in volunteer support for safety reasons put additional pressures on the food bank system. Feed Ontario responded by creating new food and support programs and distributing PPE for food bank staff and volunteers. In addition, we increased pounds of food distributed by 518% that of the previous year – including much needed fresh protein.
9. COVID-19 Emergency Food Box Program
One of the core food programs launched in response to the first waves of the COVID-19 pandemic was the COVID-19 Emergency Food Box Program. With the support and generosity of people and organizations across Ontario, we pre-packed and shipped over 400,000 emergency food boxes with a week’s worth of food to help people and families facing hunger. Check out the video.
10. Full Shelves Program
As we all began to adapt to our new normal following the initial waves of the pandemic, in 2021 Feed Ontario launched a new food program to ensure resource sustainability as food bank use continued to grow. Full Shelves helps keep pantries across the province stocked by purchasing, acquiring, and distributing non-perishable food staples. These include peanut butter, pasta, cereal, and more.
11. Erb transportation partnership
Maintaining safe cold chain practices when distributing food to all corners of the province is vital! As the only organization that provides cold chain logistics to every area we service, Erb Group’s longstanding support makes our impact possible.
12. Feeding Possibility! grant program
The Feeding Possibility! grant program was developed in response to the needs of Ontario’s food bank network, as determined by Feed Ontario’s Capacity Evaluation Survey and the emerging needs of food banks due to COVID-19. Food banks receive support toward innovative projects that improve their organizational capacity and service to their community.
13. Annual Hunger Report
For more than a decade, Feed Ontario’s annual Hunger Report provides research and data on current trends driving food bank use in the province and recommendations for change. Our reports have sparked provincial and national conversations in the media, communities, and parliament. Moreover the Hunger report has led to many food banking organizations across Canada adopting their own annual research reports.
14. Cost of Poverty report
The first analysis in Canada of the cost of poverty was produced by Feed Ontario in 2008, to help shape the provincial government’s strategy to tackle poverty. It has been replicated in several other provinces and cities towards similar efforts. We also conducted a second, follow up Cost of Poverty report 10 years later.
15. Hunger Map
In partnership with the Fleming College Geographic Information Systems (GIS) program, Feed Ontario released an interactive hunger map that allows users to compare food bank use by provincial electoral riding across the province. The map, which showed food bank use exists in every provincial riding in Ontario, received special recognition from the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.
16. One More Bite
In partnership with Metro Ontario, the One More Bite program ensures that nutritious unsold food that may have otherwise gone to waste is recovered by food banks across Ontario. Since its inception, the One More Bite program has provided over 2 million pounds of fresh, nutritious food—and counting!
17. Day of Action/MPP Breakfast
Feed Ontario has remained committed to working with partners, communities, and government on true solutions to hunger and poverty. As part of this commitment, we’ve created annual opportunities for food banks to meet with their local MPPs about issues in their communities – first through a Day of Action and then an MPP Breakfast at Queens Park.
18. Hunger Action Month
Feed Ontario launched Canada’s first Hunger Action Month , which was later scaled nationally with Food Banks Canada. Run throughout September, Hunger Action Month encourages people to work towards a future without hunger through four key actions: Educate, Advocate, Volunteer, and Donate.
19. Northern food strategy
Feed Ontario has begun work on a Northern Food Strategy, starting with an assessment of resources and existing infrastructure available in Northern Ontario. In its early stages, this research has led to new investments that support Feed Ontario’s northern member food banks, including the launch of a new milk and beef subsidy pilot program, training opportunities, capacity grants, and new research partnerships with The Oshki–Pimache-O-Win Education and Training Institute.
20. Drive Hunger Away with Farm Credit Canada
One of our longest corporate partnerships is with Farm Credit Canada. They continue to support our mission with the Drive Hunger Away campaign. They partner with local schools to raise food for local food banks. Each year, their employees drive tractors to participating schools to collect the food and drop it off at the local food bank.
21. Buy Local, Share Local
Feed Ontario has always supported Ontario farmers! One of our early programs, Buy Local, Share Local, encouraged purchasing nutritious food from local farmers. This results in the food being donated to Ontario’s food banks.
22. Influencing policy change
In partnership with government and other organizations, Feed Ontario continues to work hard to ensure policies which benefit families living with poverty. Over the years we have played instrumental roles in establishing the Ontario Child Benefit, Farmer Tax Credit, changes to the definition of disability, affordable housing, and the basic income pilot.
23. Member support programs
Over the years we’ve developed robust support programs for our member food banks so that they can focus more energy on serving their communities. This includes training opportunities, templates and guidelines, insurance and group benefits programs, conferences, and other resources.
24. Emergency preparedness
Adopting best practices from our counterparts in Alberta and BC following wildfire crises, Feed Ontario developed a province wide Emergency Preparedness Plan (EPP) to ensure our network of food banks is equipped to support their communities in times of emergency – something which came in handy in 2020! This led to the process of developing a new EPP based on lessons learned during the first waves of COVID-19.
25. Sounds of the Season campaign with CBC
This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the Sounds of the Season campaign with CBC which brings awareness and raises funds to support food banks across the province.
26. Rebrand to Feed Ontario
In 2019, we rebranded from the Ontario Association of Food Banks to Feed Ontario . Our new brand reflects the growth, transformation, and collective action of our network of food banks and partners. Feed Ontario is a brand that represents the vision that unites us. It also represents the work we do together to achieve that vision.
27. Spring and holiday campaigns with Loblaws
The first donation at the cash register campaign with Loblaws was in Ontario. It is now a national program that takes place each spring and holiday season. Millions of dollars are raised for food banks across Canada through Loblaws stores.
28. Top 40 under 40
In 2021, Feed Ontario’s Executive Director, Carolyn Stewart, was recognized as a recipient of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40® for her vision and leadership during the early stages of the pandemic.
29. Top 10 Impact Charity: Canadian Food Banks
Today, Feed Ontario was named one of the Top 10 Impact Charities: Canadian Food Banks for 2022 by Charity Intelligence. Charity Intelligence’s rigorous analysis measures the impact charities make to see how each dollar we give can create the most positive change.
30. Serving nearly 600,000 people
To us, the most important impact achievement is helping nearly 600,000 Ontarians have greater access to the nutritious food they need throughout the year. This is all possible through the collective work of our food banks, partners, and supporters,
We are so grateful to all our dedicated member food banks, partners, and supporters who have helped us Feed Ontario over the last 30 years. We hope you’ll continue to join us as we work to end hunger and poverty in our province by donating, becoming a partner, or supporting a campaign.