‘This is how communities come together’: Hand Up Toronto continues to feed the city with emergency hampers

TORONTO — It’s been an ongoing mission to feed the city for Carmen Leung and her team at Hand Up Toronto. 

“In the beginning of COVID, we started a program to support families who are affected by the school closures,” she tells CTV News Toronto. “We realized that a lot of families who relied on school programs for the majority of their meals were now having to support all of their children.”

Through the summer, the organization was able to help 16,000 families. They relaunched the ‘Family Support Program’ in November. 

“We committed to serve families for the duration of six months,” Leung explains. “We thought that bringing a more sustainable program to help fight food insecurity was a better approach.” 

Hand Up Toronto is currently serving more than 250 families with emergency food hampers personally delivered to their door. 

“The packages that we provide are full of dried goods that last an average family of four around two to three weeks,” says Leung. “We do deliveries every two weeks, and it’s completely contactless.” 

“They took the same volunteer and matched them with a family,” Rahul Singh, executive director of Global Medic, says of Hand Up Toronto’s delivery program. “In addition to getting food aid out, it actually builds community because the volunteer is actually interacting with the same family a couple of times a month.” 

It’s that same drive to build a community that led Hand Up Toronto and Global Medic to work together to get the food out to families in need. 

“For months now, their volunteers have joined us, they’ve been helping us pack food aid,” explains Singh. “In addition to the 20,000 plus food kits that we’ve distributed through them, we’ve put out a million pounds of food now into the food bank system to help families across the country. And it’s a lot of their volunteers and our volunteers that are packing it, so it’s pretty cool.” 

Hand Up Toronto is currently fundraising in order to help more people over a long period of time.

“Families are really grateful,” Leung says. “Over 50 per cent of these families have no income at all. They are not employed currently. There’s just an enormous need.” 

Singh adds that the work of his volunteers, and those at Hand Up Toronto, are helping bring the city together. 

“This is what he should be doing,” he says. “This is how communities come together to help.” 

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