When we started the Harbourfront Gives Foundation, the idea was to help Canadians improve their quality of life and ensure the prosperity of future generations.
Ensuring that children get enough to eat was also a large part of the equation, given too often this is easily overlooked in Western countries.
The severity of malnutrition rates in Canada became explicitly clear last year, when record numbers of people, especially children, turned to food banks for help. A combination of high inflation and skyrocketing housing prices caused a spike in demand that non-profit leaders say will continue through 2023. As a result, food banks throughout the country have asked for more help to meet this demand, CTV News reported in December 2022.
“I’ve never experienced a festive season this difficult for us as individuals and as an organization,” Tamisan Bencz-Knight, a manager at Edmonton’s Food Bank, shared.
When we became aware of this worsening situation, it was clear that the Harbourfront Gives Foundation needed to act.
To address child hunger in Canada, Harbourfront Gives completed a major holiday effort in December 2022 which resulted in great success. A large number of proceeds were quickly pooled together by Harbourfront Wealth’s advisory practices spread across the nation. We took note of the rising demand for food bank support, which increased by 15 per cent in 2022—the same time donations hit a record low. Food Banks Canada needs help to feed those in need, Harbourfront Wealth was ready to lend a hand.
While I personally feel very strongly about this initiative, I’m comforted that our team of 250+ employees and advisors share this same sentiment. Within 24 hours of the launch of campaign, we had raised enough money to provide nutritious food packs to kids across Canada—it was the beginning of what became one of our most successful fundraisers.
We launched the inaugural Harbourfront Holiday Meals Campaign —the first, but not the last—on November 29, 2022, also known as Giving Tuesday. A month later, 28 advisory teams across Canada raised over $80,000 for Food Banks Canada.
I feel proud of this partnership—between myself, the foundation and the people who have made this all possible. It’s a sign of how much we can accomplish when passion for good is tied to real action.
But we can’t rest on our laurels. More Canadians need that support than ever before, and their needs don’t end here. It’s clear that we are experiencing a time of unprecedented hunger, with food banks across the country spread thin, many of them spending 10 times their original budgets to try and meet the soaring demand.
That trend looks unlikely to slow down in 2023. Recent reports show that 5.8 million Canadians are now living in a state of food insecurity.
For that reason, we have decided that the holiday meals campaign won’t be the end of our support of Food Banks Canada.
The organization will continue to support Food Banks Canada’s After the Bell program, over the long-term. This program started several years ago to provide healthy meals to Canadian children during the summer months. School closures mean many at-risk families lose access to the free meals they provide during the rest of the year. Too often, children go hungry as a result.
The After the Bell program addresses this problem with healthy food packs aimed at providing as much nutrition as possible.
That’s why I’m making it clear now: Food Banks Canada can count on the support of the Harbourfront Gives Foundation. Making the world a better place isn’t about a single accomplishment: It’s a habit that we continually nurture and improve. For Food Banks Canada and for all Canadians in need: We’re here for the long haul.