At St. Ann's Parish in downtown Toronto, visitors receive spiritual nourishment – and food, should they be in need.
Since 2005, the parish has run a community food bank under the coordination of parishioners Carlos Carreiro and his wife, Colette. Supporting this husband-and-wife team are 46 volunteers – family, friends, fellow parishioners, students from the Newman Chaplaincy Centre at the University of Toronto, Holy Name Parish and groups from local elementary schools.
At present, the St. Ann's Food Bank serves 700 clients every month – but that number is rising slightly, says Carlos. He cites housing costs as one of the key factors affecting families.
"(The food bank) takes some of the pressure away from being able to afford to feed yourself or your family," adds Carlos, who works in the property management industry and volunteers about 12 hours per week to help keep the food bank running. "We also provide a stable source, so that people can count on us being there for them on a regular basis."
Located in the parish basement, the food bank receives donations from multiple sources, including Daily Bread Food Bank, Second Harvest Food Rescue, St. Francis Table, Bridgepoint Health Centre, school food drives, local neighbourhood drives, individuals and volunteers.
The food bank is open every Saturday from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., or until the last client leaves. (Every week, clients go through a brief screening process, he adds.)
Looking forward, Carlos hopes there will be a day when the food bank won't be needed. "However, our goal is to continue to be able to provide food and an equitable place for those who need our services."
To get involved and volunteer at St. Ann's Parish Food Bank, please contact Carlos at firstname.lastname@example.org.