Free Food on Sunday in the Park
Free food? Why not. Especially at a time of pandemic where everything that can help is welcome. Looking down from my twenty floors to the garden every Sunday you can see people line up early as they can get free food being distributed. This had been happening for quite some time now since the start of the pandemic. Come sun, rain, or snow it goes on every Sunday from 12:00 noon till past 1:00 in the afternoon or when food runs out.
I can’t help thinking sad and happy for those on the lineup. Sad because they are in that situation. To me to line up there is like being in the lowest of pits. At the same time feel happy for those people they have a place where they can rely on for handouts. Not like in a third world country wherein almost nothing to give away for free.
In some shelter here in Toronto, they do serve hot meals on some days and special occasions such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. Food here in Canada to some is no big deals, there are abundant supply. In a third world country food is prime commodity that even you are buying it, sometimes they are not available or you are limited to buy because of little supply or avoiding price hoarding. At the beginning of Covid 19 shelters were all shut down. Volunteers do not feel comfortable cooking and having contact with people indoor.
Going back to this group giving food on the park, one Sunday I came down and put my press ID and talked with the organizer, Ryan Galloway. At first I thank them for the things they do on behalf of the community. I asked them what group they belong to? The respond I received is astounding to me, when they say they are independent volunteer groups non governmental or church institutions. I asked what’s the difference of their groups with others. Ryan responded that his group ask no nonsense requirement to give food, just line up, grab, carry and walk away. Not like others that you have to fill up a form and meet some requirements and must be a resident in the area. I asked how do they do it? I was told they partner with other groups collecting and putting things all together then give them away. Sometimes they reach out from their own pocket, and buy from whole seller. There was a time when they went dry, they did fund raising and reach out to their social media network. They help mostly homeless, indigenous, marginalized and activist protesting in the streets. They give hot meals, fruits, water, vegetables, and can goods. I asked how long had they been doing this? He responded since 2016.
When I asked Ryan for estimate of people they have served. He mentioned in the 7 months of pandemic they have provided groceries to 160 families or about 4480 people on a weekly basis in the Allan Garden area downtown. Ryan says there are lots of hustling and making connections, partnering and friends with the community across the city. He feel good giving back because according to him the payoff is gratifying. In their more than five years of operation he estimate that they have given out foods worth more than $200,000. A lot of people believed on what they are doing.