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Civic Impact

New downtown food bank devotes itself to folks who donít eat meat


Vegetarians and vegans who find themselves in need of nutritious food will have a new place to turn to next year, with the launch of the Toronto Vegetarian Food Bank.
 
Currently in the midst of a fundraising campaign, the new not-for-profit will operate out of the Yonge Street Mission, focusing on distributing fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as packaged foods that are free of animal products.
 
“Vegetarian and vegan people are underserved at other food banks,” says founder Matt Noble. “There aren’t a lot of fresh foods at regular food banks in the first place—and what they would call fresh food is often eggs, dairy and meat. When they do have fresh produce, everybody wants it. Focusing on vegetarian and vegan people, we’ll have a good idea of what will be good for them so they don’t have to worry about ingrdients. And because we’re serving those people, we’re lessening the strain on the other food banks.”
 
The GTA had been served by the Ontario Vegetarian Food Bank (OVFB), which had distribution locations in North York and Scarborough. Noble had been talking with them about opening a downtown veggie food bank when OVFB founder Malan Joseph died in 2013. The OVFB has since ceased operation. Working with his own team and a member of Joseph’s team, Noble decided to launch a new Toronto-focused organization. For more than a year, they have been working with wholesalers, farmers and local restauranteurs to source food.
 
Noble’s grandmother works with the Yonge Street Mission, a connection that lead to a home and a partnership for the new enterprise. Since much of the vegetarian food will be perishable, what they aren’t able to use at their monthly or twice monthly distribution will be used by the Mission, which operates its own food bank and daily meal program. “It wouldn’t be able to happen without them, for sure, and they’re helping their people get healthier food by giving me the space,” says Noble.
 
The January 31 opening will be something of a pilot to help determine the size and the ongoing schedule of the food bank. Noble figures it will be monthly or bimonthly to start. “We are feeling it out. We don’t know if we’ll get people who used to use the Ontario Vegetarian Food Bank, people who use the Yonge Street Mission or who knows who else finds out about it,” he says.
 
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Matt Noble
Photo: Mark Kamstra
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