‘We have 17 days’ worth of food’: COVID-19 affecting Toronto’s most vulnerable

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting people around the world and closer to home.

With a number of events being cancelled and facilities closed, a couple of non-profits in Toronto are joining forces to help the city’s most vulnerable.

Neil Hetherington is taking an inventory.

“We have 17 days’ worth of food at the current levels of distribution,” said Hetherington, Daily Bread Food Bank CEO.

Hetherington knows the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t going to be over in 17 days.

Considering the pattern of panicked shoppers clearing store shelves, he says they will be relying on donations with that distribution number expected to increase.

“There is a heightened sense of anxiety among those who are already vulnerable, are already experiencing poverty and now they are being told they need two or three weeks worth of food. We know that the average food bank user has about $7 and 83 cents a day to survive on after paying for rent, so there’s no way that food bank users can stockpile food,” said Hetherington.

Keeping the doors open is challenging during these times, considering recommendations of practising social distancing — which is why one organization is stepping in to help.


Within the next day or two, GlobalMedic will be setting up field shelters (tents) at the Daily Bread to meet the needs of those accessing food banks, as increased restrictions come into play.

“We want to make sure that we protect the health and safety of volunteers and staff and so our next step is to distribute food that has been previously boxed for families that are experiencing poverty,” said Hetherington.

“Right now is the time to stand together and help folks in need to help our most vulnerable,” said Rahul Singh, GlobalMedic executive director.

GlobalMedic has been a part of over 200 operations in 73 countries.

They now see the need is right here at home.

Besides offering up tents, they will be assisting with supplies.

“In this case, we know we have the right aid — soap, food items, cleaning items, this is the right stuff that we know people will need. Now it’s about getting it to the right people,” said Singh.

While GlobalMedic and Daily Bread join forces to keep helping the most vulnerable.

The key is staying operational, so they can continue to do so.

“Some staff will be asked to actually camp here at the Daily Bread and live here for the next two weeks so that we know that this is a closed environment, completely free of any contamination. That is one of the final stages of our plan,” said Hetherington.

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