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Volunteering With The Food Bank of York Region

Posted by ThomasLast Updated May 29th, 2024
— 3 minutes reading

This December we volunteered with one of our long-time customers: the Food Bank of York Region (FBYR), a so-called food bank for food banks.

We also had a chance to speak with their founder and CEO, Alex Bilotta. You can watch our interview with him here or read about their story below.

inFlow Customer Spotlight: The Food Bank of York Region

How FBYR has helped the community since 2013

The FBYR helps to connect the surplus of food from businesses to programs that help low or moderate income individuals.

If they weren’t around, the extra food at various stores and restaurants would simply be thrown in the garbage. That’s hundreds—probably thousands of pounds of edible food that would have been thrown away each week.

There isn’t any Canadian legislation in place to control what should be done with surpluses, so Alex Bilotta and his team play a critical role in preventing perfectly good food from going to waste and helping to get it to the people who need it most.

People living on a low income—or with social assistance—simply don’t have enough money to eat a healthy diet after regular bills like rent and utilities.

The food bank has three large trucks to help them collect food from retailers like Costco, Metro, or Sobeys or from smaller businesses like farmers, wholesalers, or manufacturers.

The challenges of running a food bank

According to Food Banks Canada, there has been a 32% increase in visits to food banks in March 2023 (vs. March 2022).

This isn’t just the effects of the COVID pandemic either. When the FBYR started out in 2013, they served about 5,000 individuals. They now serve 30,000 people per year within the York region, including schools that want to create food pantries for students and their families.

Their biggest challenge now is funding to feed the demand for fresh and frozen products. This requires double the space, double the staff, and double the trucks just to keep up.

How can you lend a hand?

The Food Bank of York Region offers volunteering sessions for individuals and businesses.

They’ve tried to streamline the volunteering process as much as possible. You can sign up, sign a release form, and then view a schedule to find the right time to show up.

Or if you’d like to provide funding, you can also donate to the FBYR online.

This year our team decided to do a bit of both. We gathered volunteers for a half-day in their warehouse, and we also donated $5,000 directly to the FBYR.

It was a great experience, and we highly encourage you to think of the FBYR—not just this holiday season but in 2024 as well.