Chefs give back to those who give at the Daily Bread Food Bank

By Steven Chester

Attitude of gratitudeCanadian Restaurant & Foodservice News was recently on hand at the Daily Bread Food Bank to celebrate International Chefs Day with Canadian Culinary Federation’s (CCFCC) Toronto and Oakville branches.

CCFCC members, along with culinary students from Humber and Liaison College, donated their time and skills to host a meal for Daily Bread’s army of volunteers at its Toronto warehouse. The location serves 150 people daily, and a production room prepares meals for food banks and shelters throughout the city, at approximately 3,000 to 4,000 servings per week.

Also giving back to the community were key sponsors who donated ingredients for the Oktoberfest-themed meal: Heritage Foods donated perogies, Saputo the sour cream, Mancini Foods donated onions and peppers, Sysco the vegetables, Kraft the barbecue sauce and Maple Leaf the all-important Oktoberfest sausages.

“For me, it was important for us to do this as a group of chefs because we have these skills that we can donate,” said Kira Smith, Corporate Chef, Kraft Canada Foodservice. “It’s also personally taking stock about how lucky the majority of us are to have homes and family and health. I think it’s a reminder that not everyone is that blessed, and so it’s really beholden to those people who have that in life to help others.”

Teeming with chefs and suppliers, the event had no shortage of helping hands excited about the opportunity to support a worthy cause.

“It was a great day,” said chef Ryan Marquis, event organizer and CCFCC Central Region Vice President. “We had more people show up than we anticipated. Many of us prepared the meals, but on top of that, we had a lot of time on our hands. So what we ended up doing was help with Daily Bread’s production as well. We created soups for the upcoming week, and we helped make chili. We peeled a lot of potatoes, onions and carrots for them.”

Helping those in need

Daily Bread Food Bank distributed nearly nine million pounds (4.08 million kg) of food last year to member agencies and provided food hampers for 700,000 visits. The organization also offers a community garden, using a portion of its front lawn to offer those with a low or fixed income a chance to grow and use fresh produce. On top of that, over 1,200 pounds (544 kg) of fresh vegetables, herbs, berries and edible flowers were donated from the garden to a local food bank last year.

On top of feeding the hungry, the registered charity also offers a 16-week food services training program, where professional instructors work with those who seek entry into employment in food services. There is also a job search component to the program, which assists in resume writing, interviewing skills, time, stress and conflict management and basic computer skills.

“Participants get 24 hours a week, and it’s all hands-on in the kitchen,” explains Todd Lamswood, Food Services Manager at Daily Bread. “It’s for people facing really any kind of employment barrier. It’s a lot of new Canadians, people with mental health issues, needing some formalized training. We teach them the basics of the foodservice industry: sanitation, knife skills, all of the different basic equipment that they’d expect to see in a kitchen. They get their safe food-handling certificate. We’ve partnered with another organization, and they help them find jobs out in the industry. We have about an 80 per cent success rate.”

To join the fight against hunger, visit to learn how you can help.

About the author

Steven Chester is the digital media manager at MediaEdge Communications. His 13-year journalism background includes writing and editing for digital and traditional media. He is an expert in social media, online content and email newsletter development.

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