Food insecurity is a contributing factor to poor health outcomes and is an exacerbating problem for people with mental health challenges. Food insecurity may cause individuals to experience additional stress, anxiety, and depression, which can worsen their mental health challenges. The food bank program aimed to address this concern by providing nutritious food options to CMHA Toronto clients in need, helping to address this critical issue.
"There are no words to describe how much the food bank helps - I really, really appreciated it, money is so tight for me. There are other food banks I could go to but I feel afraid to go, Routes is like my family and I am not afraid when I go there"
This winter the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Toronto launched a food bank program to support our clients with mental health challenges who were also struggling with food insecurity. The food bank was made possible thanks to funding from the United Way Greater Toronto.
"We know that access to healthy food is essential for good mental and physical health," said Michael Anhorn, CEO of CMHA Toronto. "Unfortunately, many of our clients struggle with food insecurity and may not have access to the food they need to stay healthy. That's why we decided to start this food bank program – to ensure that our clients have access to healthy and nutritious food options."
"We are committed to supporting the health and well-being of our clients, and this new food bank program is just one way that we can help to address the issue of food insecurity"
The food bank program operated out of CMHA Toronto's offices and was run by program staff at Routes and Pathways. One client shared, "There are no words to describe how much the food bank helps - I really, really appreciated it, money is so tight for me. There are other food banks I could go too but I feel afraid to go, Routes is like my family and I am not afraid when I go there"
Clients were able to access the food bank on a regular basis and were provided with a variety of healthy food options, including fresh fruits and vegetables, canned goods, and other non-perishable items. Staff also arranged to deliver food to clients who were unable to come to our offices.
"We are committed to supporting the health and well-being of our clients, and this new food bank program is just one way that we can help to address the issue of food insecurity," said Anhorn. "We hope that this program will provide our clients with the support they need to lead healthy and fulfilling lives."
The launch of the food bank program came at a time when many people across the country are struggling with food insecurity due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. By providing healthy and nutritious food options to its clients with mental health challenges, CMHA Toronto is taking an important step to support the health and well-being of those in need.