Parkdale Community Food Bank (PCFB) currently supports 187 people daily, providing pantry items, meat, produce and more to residents in the Parkdale-High Park area. Kitty Costa, the manager of PCFB tells CJRU about what’s changed with the pandemic, what’s remained the same, and how the community can support their work.
Costa explains that, prior to the pandemic, PCFB was operating with a shopping model where clients could browse the shelves and pick up what they needed. To keep everyone safe, they’ve replaced this process with grocery boxes that can be picked up during drop in hours and scheduled appointments, or delivered to clients. Costa says that they’ve been adjusting to the pandemic in more ways than one. Their client base has grown significantly and PCFB is currently serving over 3000 people monthly, compared to 2000 before the pandemic.
A scroll through their instagram feed is a good visual representation of their current dilemma. There’s a rotation of empty warehouse shelves, calls for donations, and then stocked shelves with a thank you message to their community. Costa says that they’re in the stocked warehouse phase right now but everything will be distributed within a matter of days. The overwhelming demand for services has been a result of the pandemic, where more Torontonians are facing precarious living situations and financial instability. PCFB is doing their best to keep up and Costa credits the community for enabling them to meet these growing needs.
Costa adds that only non-perishable items can be accepted at their neighbourhood donation bins but perishable items can be dropped off at PCFB where they can be stored in their walk-in freezer. Some items that are especially helpful include cereal, baby food, packaged meat, and items for clients with dietary restrictions.
For community members that want to support PCFB, Costa says that there are lots of ways to get involved. Volunteer opportunities range from stocking shelves, packing grocery boxes, making deliveries, and more. For information on volunteering, get in touch with PCFB by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Monetary donations to PCFB are also being collected by HousepartyTO at their virtual Halloween dance party on Twitch.
No matter what the pandemic brings, Costa says that serving clients with dignity and respect will be at the heart of their work.
To hear more about PCFB, listen to the interview below.
For folks with excess food, PCFB has partnered with a number of local businesses to throw their first trick or treat food drive. To participate, stop by at least 3 donation bin locations listed on their trick or treat map. Take a photo with each bin (at least 3 photos) and post on Instagram or Facebook tagging @parkdalecommunityfoodbank. This enters you into a raffle for a $50 Visa Gift Card. Another way to participate is by purchasing $5 raffle tickets where proceeds will go towards the food bank.