BBNC poverty reduction campaign

Oct 22, 2017

Good Food Box at BBNC

Good Food Box offered by BBNC poverty reduction campaign.

Birchmount Bluffs Neighbourhood Centre (BBNC) is seeking the community’s support for a fundraising and donation campaign to help lift local families out of poverty.

The campaign is being launched in support of SHARE365, a program that provides families with a Good Food Box filled with fresh fruits and vegetables once a month.

The program also distributes household cleaning products and personal care items such as soap, shampoo, conditioner, combs and brushes, laundry detergent, diapers and sanitary pads.

SHARE365 offers subsidies for low-income families that need help paying for programs such as nursery school.

In addition, it supports skills development workshops to help people get back into the work force by providing training in CPR/First Aid certification, food handling certification, computer skills and job search strategies.

“I was on the other side only a
couple of years ago,” said a program participant who wishes to remain anonymous. “But when my marriage broke down and then lost my job,
knowing about the SHARE365 program helped me so much. My youngest now has
the opportunity to participate in Nursery School and she just loves it. My
older kids participate in Karate and as a family, we all love seeing what’s
in the Good Food Box. This program has helped me feel better as a parent.”

Year round poverty reduction campaign

SHARE365 is a year round poverty reduction program that evolved from BBNC’s Share Christmas hamper program that many Birch Cliff residents participated in until it was discontinued in 2015.

Linda Curley, BBNC’s Manager, Community Engagement, said the program was revised because families living in poverty need help year round and not just at Christmas.

“Families had a great two or three weeks in December and then we didn’t address them at all until the same time next year. So zero impact, zero change except that their child got a really nice toy at Christmas time. But (under the new program) we are now seeing some of those changes,” Curley said.

Currently helping 150 families

SHARE365 currently supports 150 families living from the lake north to Eglinton Ave. and from Victoria Park Ave. west to McCowan Rd., Curley said.  There are more than 60 families on the waiting list.

BBNC SHARE365 donations

Some of the SHARE365 donations awaiting distribution.

Those families are comprised of 711 individuals who need a hand up.

This is a campaign primarily about children.  Of those 711 people, 63% are children ranging from newborn to age 18.

Curley said the average participant in SHARE365 has between $7 and $15 a day for food, transportation and clothing.

“You take TTC to a doctor’s appointment and come back from your doctor’s appointment. There’s seven dollars. So they’re done for the day. That means they don’t get food,” Curley said.

All of the families have casework volunteers who check in to see how they’re doing and ask what services and resources they require.

“I’ve had participants say it’s not worth it for me to get the Good Food Box because I have to come on TTC and that’s seven dollars I can’t afford that. So I’m going to pass on the box this month,” said volunteer caseworker Lillian Stermac.

Curley added:  “We had one woman who talked about the fact that she had four teenage daughters. And the choice is food or pads. And food wins out all the time. Rightfully so. So what are they doing? Rolling up toilet paper. Because when that’s your choice of what goes in your grocery bin you’ve got to choose the food.”

SHARE365 promotes civic action

SHARE365 also promotes civic engagement and civic action because Curley said those who live in poverty typically feel that they don’t have a voice and their opinions don’t count.

In order to help affect change, BBNC provides training through groups and workshops to help participants develop the the skill to speak out about issues of poverty within their community.

She said several SHARE365 participants have made deputations at City Hall and been involved in the city’s budget process.

BBNC is housed within the Birchmount Community Centre, 93 Birchmount Rd.

BBNC is housed within the Birchmount Community Centre, 93 Birchmount Rd.

So what can you do?

SHARE365  is a volunteer-run program that does not receive funding from grants or foundations but  relies on donations from the community and individuals within businesses.

BBNC is looking for financial contributions to pay for things like the Good Food Boxes and nursery school subsidies.

The food boxes are valued at $18 a month for families of four and $13 for a family of three or smaller but SHARE365 would like to double the number of boxes sent every month.

How to donate

You can go to this website and click on the Donate Now button to make a one-time contribution or contribute monthly.  In the message box make sure you specify that the funds are for the SHARE365 program.

You can mail a cheque (or post-dated cheques) or you can drop them off at BBNC.

In-kind donations of household cleaning products and personal care items can also be dropped off at the following address:

Birchmount Bluffs Neighbourhood Centre,

93 Birchmount Road (at Kingston Rd.)

Toronto, Ontario, M1N 3J7.

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