July 6, 2015

A Place for Us: Toronto's Vegetarian Foodbank

If you're an activist these days, there's a high degree of possibility that you are living at or below the poverty line. I'm no exception and currently am living on a disability benefit. I receive more on it that I would with welfare but its still not alot, especially if you have pet, which I do (my five rescued feral fur babies).

I used to go to my neighborhood food bank but when I decided to go vegetarian ten years ago and went completely vegan 5 years ago, I gradually stopped going to it. It was too disheartening the small amount of food I could eat. As a vegan I eat a very healthy diet so reverting to mainly processed food one made no sense. Plus there was never any fresh produce. This lack of produce is a shame and loss for food bank clients and in general when you consider all the fresh produce and food that grocery stores and restaurants throw out, but that's a topic for another post.

After I stopped going to my local food bank, I made do on my tiny food allowance. I  dreamed often of a food bank for vegans as and in January of this year my dreams came true.

On November 8, 2014 an Indiegogo fiundraiser was begun. It was to raise funding for the creation of a vegetarian only food bank to service the city of Toronto's vegetarian and vegan communities. It was begun by a small group of local AR Vegan activist and advocates including, Matt Noble and well known AR Activist Kim Carroll.  They managed to raise over $5,000 in two month and soon after The Toronto Vegetarian Food Bank was born. They opened up on January 31 at the Yonge Street Mission in the heart of Cabbagetown. Since that they have serviced 548 vegetarians and vegans and provided   six months of food and support for a community long overlooked by mainstream social services.

I have gone twice and found it a fun and pleasant experience. There is a happiness and relaxed vibe which is different from the usual food bank experience. It is true then perhaps that vegetarians and vegans are not only healthier, they are also happier and have a greater sense of inner and outer peace.

For me its a thrilling experience for another reason. This is my old neighborhood and it has certainly changed. I used to live there in the early 1990s, the heyday of the downtown crack epidemic. The neighborhood, anchored by Regent Park, other low income housing, and homeless shelters was depressed and run down. It is now vibrant, clean and beautiful thanks to city revitalization projects. Its now the perfect location for this equally beautiful and progressive project.

Toronto Vegetatian Food Bank


Yonge Street Mission
270 Gerrard St. East
Located in the heart of Cabbage town, across from the public library. Its easily accessible from the Parliment bus and College Street Streetcar.

Time :

12 noon to 4:00 PM
One Saturday of the month which is posted on their website here: http://tvfb.ca/about/

The next dates are:

July 18, 2015
August 22, 2015
September 26, 2015
November 28, 2015

You may have to wait up to an hour and 1/2 at its busiest time, but that's not bad for a food bank. I arrived at 11:30 and was served with in 15 minutes so arriving early is another option. Just bring your headphones, music, a good book or knitting and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and beautiful building or  some of the home made vegetarian soup served on the second floor.

Who's eligible:

This is a vegetarian only food bank and is meant for vegetarians, vegans and those seriously transitioning. You also need to be living a low income as well. For more information  and what you need to bring, please visit the website here: http://tvfb.ca/qa/

What do you get:

A medium shopping buggy full of fresh produce, pantry staples and vegan foods. These include brown rice, chick peas, dry and canned, pasta,oatmeal, tofu, soy milk, health bars and a array of fresh produce including kale, avocado and yams. I believe the produce does change but there is a big array and its all in good shape. The one thing for vegans is check the pasta. Its always vegan but sometimes its processed in a facility that also processes egg and/or milk.

What can you make:

This is of course the fun part. Here are some blog posts using ingredients you will receive at the TVFB. Be sure to check The Country Vegan  for a new monthly feature using ingredients from the food bank. For inspiration here's a partial list of some of the yummy, healthy dishes you can make using these ingredients.

Breaded Zucchini Fritters
(recipe coming soon at The Country Vegan)
Pasta Primavera
Roast yam (a perfect lunch served with raw veggies)
BBQ tofu sandwich
reicpe here: http://the-countryvegan.blogspot.ca/2015/05/best-ever-brownies.html

How you can help:

Yuo can donate food or funds to support this project.

Matt Noble and volunteers setting up

The Entrance. pics: Una Rose

Vegetarian resources. pic: Una Rose

More Info and News:

The Toronto Vegetarian Food Bank http://tvfb.ca/

A Day at the Toronto Vegetarian  Food Bank. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyj_SajJ3IU