Guest post: Diana Stapleton on Weston’s food bank

WAES (Weston Area Emergency Support) was founded in 1986 by 12 area churches in response to the growing poverty in the Weston community. As its name suggests, it was meant to be an emergency support. Unfortunately the emergency continues. In 2019 WAES has served over 700 people each month from within our York South Weston catchment area.

WAES has been run out of the back of the Frontlines building at 1844 Weston Road for 30 years. This space was provided for us by the generosity of Weston Park Baptist church. We are so grateful to them for their support.

In September of 2019 we closed the door on our space at 1844 and moved into our new, expanded space at 1 King St in the Central United Church building. After only a few weeks there it is clear this was a good move for the food bank, the volunteers and the community.

Due to the increased space the food bank can now offer a “shopping model” of service. This allows community members to select the foods that best serve their needs. We are all very happy with the new set up.

WAES is totally volunteer run. We receive financial donations from Weston Lions, York Lions, High Park Rotary, many area churches, service clubs and individuals. We use this money to purchase food that is not donated, like chicken, vegetables and fruits as well as other key necessities.

In 2018 33% of those that came to us for help were children and youth under 18, and nearly 10% were seniors. 51% of adults and 20% of children stated they went hungry at least once per week due to lack of food in their home.

Some people will say – “food banks aren’t the answer to hunger in Canada”. I totally agree with that statement. They are not, and were never meant to be. Food banks are to our social service system what emergency wards are to our health care system. A person goes to a hospital emergency ward due a critical injury or illness for immediate help, but an emergency ward does not solve or prevent a health crisis. A person goes to a food bank for 3-5 days of food once per month. This will hardly end hunger for any family living in poverty. Both emergency wards and food banks fill a very specific need. Just like improving health care, ending poverty and hunger will take a lot of work, by all levels of government, businesses and individuals.

I believe that WAES serves a specific need in York South Weston, and that without it many more people would be hungry. A person can never tell what will happen in the future, a few bad breaks and anybody can end up needing to get this type of basic food support.

If you have any questions about WAES, or would like to volunteer or make a donation please call 416-247-3737 and leave a message.

Diana Stapleton

Chair, WAES

Cupboards are bare at the food bank

In medieval times, I read, the time of greatest hunger was the most cruel: it happened in early summer, while the crops were still growing, trees were flowering, but the larders were empty from last year. Peasants could see the future and what was left of the past. The present, though, was bleak.

The shelves at the Weston Area Emergency Support are bare, and they could use your support. I always recommend donating money rather than goods, though I am assured that both are welcomed. Nobody wants hotdogs with no buns, however, and money lets food banks buy what they need, often at a discount over what you might pay.

An excellent article on Weston food bank

Aaron D’Andrea wrote an excellent article for InsideToronto on the tiny Weston food bank. It’s well worth a read.

From InsideToronto

“When I started here, if we had 40 or 50 households, that was a busy morning,” Roberts said. “Now, we can go anywhere up to 80 or 100.”

The food bank, located in the back of the Frontlines building at 1844 Weston Rd. near Lawrence Avenue West, is only open for clients on Tuesdays during the summer (July and August), but its volunteers, mostly from Toronto’s Weston neighbourhood, come in throughout the week to help out.

The VCCU is accepting donations for the food bank, should you feel inclined to help.

Options for giving

The best time to give is after you feel like hell for being such a crass and grasping consumer and before your credit card bill comes due. That should be in about two weeks, if your experience (and postal service) is like mine.

Here, accordingly, are some options for giving during the holiday season:

This Sunday, the Weston Park Baptist Church starts its annual Christmas Food Drive. All the proceeds go to the Weston food bank (WAES) and help more than 330 local families. “One week prior to the drive, 4000 bags will be distributed into the Weston community and then on the day of the drive, more than 100 volunteers will go door-to-door to collect the food, sort it at the church, box it and prepare it”

Me, I like to give money. It’s less trouble, and nobody ends up with peanut butter but no jam. You can donate directly to WAES.

Frontlines is a popular youth after-school drop-in centre. They’d be glad for a little of your dough.

The WKNC does great work, too, I know. They are a drop-in and outreach centre. They’re always busy. A little cash would go far in their hands.

Add your favourite charity in the comments. I’ll link to them.

 

Weston food bank’s cupboards are bare

The Weston food bank is feeling a little pinched, according to InsideToronto.

A spokesperson for the Weston Road and King Street-area community centre, Ken Theobald, says that its charitable food sources, such as Second Harvest and the Daily Bread Food Bank, are under an increased demand and so “the dollars we do have aren’t going as far as they used to.”

At the same time, he added, the number of residents who are reliant on its drop-in breakfast, lunch, and community dinners are steadily increasing from about 65 to 100 people daily.

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As an amateur economist, can I encourage you, if you feel so inclined, to give cash instead of cans? Nobody likes hotdogs without buns.

Thanksgiving events

Thanksgiving is the most profound time of the year–both melancholy and joyful, with the end of summer and the bounty of harvest; it is time to reflect on what came before and what is yet to come. Or maybe I’m feeling melancholy because it’s my birthday.

The Farmers’ Market is having a harvest celebration this weekend. There will be face painting, castles, and an unusual fashion show.

HF

 

To honour the season, our local food bank and the Weston Park Baptist Church will be raising money and starting a food drive. The drive will begin in earnest on December 6, but they would be very glad to accept a donation now.