Despite the hard work of many organizations in making food banks more accessible to everyone who needs help, there are barriers which exist when it comes to accessing food support.
The most important thing to remember if you are seeking food support is that there is no need to feel embarrassed or ashamed. Many university or college level students are struggling on their own, and choose to go hungry rather than going to their local food bank out of embarrassment, and we urge people to never make that choice.
Another major concern, predominantly before the pandemic, was transportation. While downtown Toronto is in close proximity to public transportation, the suburbs are not so conveniently placed. Because of this, people would have to arrange other forms of transportation. It seems that to circumvent the discomfort associated with travel, people would carpool with each other, sometimes even with other people that they had met at the food bank before. In addition, people would take taxis, walk, or bike to the food bank if they didn’t have access to a car.
The way that food banks handled the pandemic seemed to solve, for the most part, the discomfort around transportation and accessibility. At the JRCC, we started delivering our food hampers to our clients so that they did not have to commute to the warehouse; as a large group of food bank users are people with disabilities, this approach helps in great part with accessibility.
Ultimately, some of the major challenges attributed to seeking food support are a lack in advertising, as many nonprofits don’t advertise their services; this makes it difficult because services from non-profits are often passed on through word of mouth, and this may not be enough to notify an entire community. If this is the case, it would help to approach a community center and ask about the services that are offered within the community. In addition to this, the pandemic has forced many organizations to create an online presence in order to maintain operations during closures, so I would highly recommend going online, searching in your neighborhood, and not being afraid to reach out when you need help.
The JRCC Kosher Food Bank is always there for you; if you need help, please check our website and contact us at 416-222-7105 x293.