Toronto Public Library works with Toronto food banks to extend access during COVID-19
Toronto Public Library (TPL) has partnered with the North York Harvest Food Bank, Daily Bread Food Bank and Second Harvest to set up food bank distribution from library branches across the city to provide alternate service locations for existing food banks that are now closed. Since the implementation of measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 transmission, there has been a dramatic decrease in access to food banks, with over a third closing in recent weeks. TPL’s efforts are in support of the City’s broader work on food security for Toronto’s vulnerable residents.
Nine food banks are open or are scheduled to open at Toronto Public Library locations. The first one opened on March 25 in partnership with North York Harvest Food Bank. Five more will open over the next two weeks in partnership with Daily Bread Food Bank. The set-up of three more sites will begin starting next week and will open shortly thereafter. Hours and addresses for these food banks are posted on 211Toronto.ca, and can also be found on the City’s COVID-19 response website at www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-social-support/.
TPL’s book delivery and sorting hub at Ellesmere/Kennedy has also been transformed for food bank support, with physical distancing embedded in the design. This delivery hub received 27 skids of food last week, and two shifts of library staff have been sorting the food into hampers for delivery at library locations where other library staff distribute food to families in need.
The response for volunteer library staff to support this critical community initiative has been overwhelming, and has been endorsed by the TPL Workers Union Local 4948. Staff from North York Harvest Food Bank, Daily Bread Food Bank and Second Harvest have also been incredibly helpful in supporting TPL staff in the set-up and operation of these sites.
“We are incredibly proud to be partnering with North York Harvest Food Bank, Daily Bread Food Bank and Second Harvest to help lessen the impact of COVID-19 on food insecurity on our city,” said City Librarian Vickery Bowles. “Our library branches are community hubs, and our staff are dedicated public servants committed to supporting those communities, so redirecting library resources to help address this critical need makes so much sense.”
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