By Denise Bacon

My family has donated to food banks over the years. Annual Thanksgiving, Christmas and other food drives are where we have enthusiastically made food donations. There is a warm feeling to select our favourite foods and treats to donate from our kitchen cupboards.

Sometimes, we shop to pick out just the right things to put in our donation hamper. It felt so good to be giving in such a tangible way and expecting that someone would have a good meal because of our food donation.

Through volunteering at Scarborough Food Security Initiative, also known as Feed Scarborough, my understanding of the behind-the-scenes work of a food bank has grown. I appreciate that the few paid staff working at SFSI are here because they want to help others. This is challenging, complex and sometimes mundane work. I also appreciate the large numbers of volunteers and donors without whom the food bank could not function.

Recently, SFSI was overjoyed by the generosity of Guildwood community residents. Led by local realtors, they donated more than 1,000 bags of food and personal items like diapers and hygiene products. This generosity was visible as cars lined up in front of SFSI at 2229 Kingston Road to drop off their donations.

Volunteers helped unpack the cars and then stacked the grocery bags inside. Bags were piled high in limited space. Everyone felt good about the tremendous community generosity on full display.

The reality of this generous effort later hit me. The work to unpack, sort and store each item from the thousand bags seemed daunting. We would surely find hundreds of jars of peanut butter of different sizes and expiry dates. This experience would repeat itself as we sorted through all those bags trying to identify one-of-a-kind products and doing our best to store various sizes, types and expiry dates of the same product. We would be challenged to find too much of one product and not enough of what clients are desperate to have.

I realized that there is a more effective and efficient way to support food banks. A financial donation would be a much better way to get food and essentials to people in need. Food banks can buy at least twice as much as I could with the same $100 because they buy in bulk. Importantly, too, they can buy what is needed at the right time. They can use their limited storage space more efficiently and have products more readily available to their clients.

I realized that I don’t need to donate an actual bag of groceries to help feed people in need. I will make a financial donation to food banks and I will still enjoy that warm feeling knowing that my donation is contributing to a family having a good meal.

You can donate now at or to your local food bank.