A non-profit organization will open its sixth food bank in Scarborough on Saturday because it says the number of people needing food in the district continues to grow.

Suman Roy, founder and executive director of Feed Scarborough, says the new food bank, located at 772 Warden Ave., near Eglinton Avenue East, is in an area that doesn't have "enough food support." That means a person living in the area would have to take at least two buses to get to a food bank.

The new food bank in Golden Mile is opening as the cost of food continues to rise in Toronto, Roy said.

"In Scarborough, the need for more food and emergency support has grown exponentially," he told CBC Toronto.

According to Roy, food insecurity rose 29 per cent across Scarborough in 2022 compared to the previous year. He said 38 per cent of the organization's clients have at least one full-time job but still need to use food banks.

"We don't have a choice but to have more spaces opened up," he said.

Research done by the organization in Scarborough's Birch Cliff neighbourhood found that a person working full-time for minimum wage, after paying rent for a one-bedroom basement apartment, would have only $1.81 left per day.

With that amount, that person would still have to pay for transit fares, food and clothing, and everything else. Roy said it's an "impossible" situation.

"People tend to cut down on food whenever they can because they have to pay other expenses," he said. "The need for food banks has gone up tremendously."

According to Roy, 71 per cent of its food bank clients are marginalized or racialized.

Every week, Feed Scarborough provides food to roughly 7,000 people through its other five Scarborough food banks, healthy meal program and online portal, through which orders can be made. The new food bank, which will have its grand opening Sunday, is expected to serve an additional 1,000 people.

Roy said he originally opened his first food bank at the start of the pandemic in 2020. It was only supposed to be temporary but now it fills an ongoing need.

Janice Bruner, a food bank user, said the new food bank looks "roomy" and "very nice." Bruner said she uses a food bank for fresh produce and meat, and has been going to one weekly.

"I was using it mainly because I didn't have enough money to be able to buy too many groceries. Most of our money goes to rent and bills," she said.

"You shouldn't be ashamed to use a food bank. It's here for everybody. It is convenient for people who really need it."

Robin Sagi, donor relations and marketing co-ordinator for Feed Scarborough, said the organization believes in "dignified" access to food and that people should be able to take what they need. The model also helps to reduce food waste, she said.

In one of its non-perishable rooms, for example, she said: "Everything is labelled with points and limits on it, depending on how much we have in supply. When you enter, you will get your point card, depending on the size of your family, and then everything here has their pricing on it."

New food bank to operate like a grocery store

In a news release this week, Feed Scarborough said the new food bank will operate like a grocery store. Guests can choose their food items and pay with a preloaded "shopping card," which can be used at the site or through an online portal to purchase prepackaged boxes or their choice of groceries.

The organization said the groceries include fresh vegetables, fruits, dairy, meat and eggs. If clients have a value left over after they check out, they can carry it forward to the next visit.

"This model seeks to empower guests, restoring dignity and giving them back the choice of what to feed themselves and their family," Feed Scarborough said in the release.

In the last six months, Feed Scarborough said an average of 1,244 new clients a month have registered for its food bank programs. The organization said many have never used a food bank before.

2023-03-31T22:56:07Z dg43tfdfdgfd