A community in cooperation london food bank

Who Are Our Clients?

We all know about the food drives, the London Food Bank bins in grocery stores, and a remarkably generous public. But there's more ... much more. Scroll down to dig deeper into how the food bank operates, how it helps individuals, families, and organizations, and what the London Food Bank is doing to tackle poverty directly. There's a lot more than meets the eye and you're a big part of it.

Too many people still go hungry

Recent years have seen an increase in those struggling on low-income. The London Food Bank has seen demand increase over last year. That means we help, on average, 3500 families each month (9,000 individuals). And we help feed an equivalent amount through our assistance to over 20 other social agencies in London. The demand is significant, but the generosity of Londoners has allowed us to keep pace during every one of our 30 years in operation.

Almost 40% of the people we serve are kids

Our clients come from every walk of life. The best way to think about it is that they could easily be someone you know - a family member, neighbour, a newcomer to the city, someone you once worked with, a senior, or a youth.

That's a lot to face for a city like London and we have to work hard together to reduce the risk of those children and their families living in poverty. In 1989, the federal parliament voted unanimously to get rid of child poverty across Canada by the year 2000. The number of kids at risk has since doubled. The London Food Bank currently helps provide meals to agencies, through school breakfast programs, and by assisting families directly.

Holding on to good jobs is getting harder

A troubling trend has emerged in recent years that shows a growing portion of those we serve are people who up until recently were part of the labour force in London and region and who now struggle to put food on the table for their families. These have been productive citizens who volunteer in the community, enroll their kids in sports programs, and who endeavour to upgrade their skills in search of gainful employment. In the meantime they require the assistance of their fellow citizens to help them make ends meet.

And then there are those presently working in minimum-wage jobs, who try to feed their families and pay for a roof over their heads at the same time. There's too much month left over at the end of the money and thousands of them turn to the London Food Bank for help.

People from all over our community come to the London Food Bank for assistance in time of need. They're your neighbours, students, kids, seniors, unemployed, individuals struggling with mental illness, single moms (and dads) with kids, the homeless, and thousands of working poor. In a very real sense they are us - Londoners who through no fault of their own find themselves in constrained circumstances.

Where Does All That Food Come From?

The answer to this question is inspiring. Individuals, families, companies, organizations, along with local growers and producers step up each and every day to meet the demand. The graphic below shows all the various parts of the community that make such a serious commitment to those struggling with hunger in our city. Take a good look - it's amazing. From all over London individuals and organizations coordinate in remarkable ways to express compassion towards those struggling amongst them. It's neighbour helping neighbour, citizen reaching out to citizen.

Food comes from all across London and the region

Community Harvest

Note the section titled "Community Harvest." A few years ago, the London Food Bank piloted a innovative program in Ontario that worked with farmers and growers in the London region. Under the arrangement, surplus crops are donated to the food bank as a means of "topping up" normally non-perishable food hampers with fresh fruits and vegetables. The London Food Bank is working with the Middlesex-London Health Unit in designing more nutritious hampers to feed hungry families. The Community Harvest initiatve was an immediate success and continues to expand its reach each successive year.

Canadians toss out $12 billion worth of edible food each year

Though few Londoners know it, the food bank is involved in a province-wide food reclamation initiative designed to divert quality foodstuffs from landfill sites. The concept is a good one, but the amount of labout required to sort through disposable food in order to glean whatever is still usable is significant. At times transport trailer loads of food arrive at our warehouse in the winter and much of the food contained in the trailers is piled together and frozen. It is a project that requires more refinement, but food bank staff and volunteers believe it important to play our part to help the environment and to help acquire more food to feed hungry citizens.

Coupons For Hunger

A number of years ago, two fabulous women - known better as the "Coupon Ladies" - established a program that helped Londoners collect and coordinate coupons and price match options as a means of helping low-income families stretch the food options further. The London Food Bank provided some office space for the intiative and greatly admire the committed efforts of Tonia Richardson and Colleen Lindeman.

Food for Families is a dynamic program in which a group of neighbourhood families come together to form a network that supports, encourages, and mentors one another using food buying power, such as coupons, price matching, and help from community associations. The London Food Bank is proud to work with this organization, and with others of similar mindset, to develop better options for families to stretch their dollars, knowledge, and food farther. The London Food Bank has never sought to dominate or manage such programs, but instead seek to help those community groups displaying leadership in attempting to meet the need when they are ready, if supplies permit. We have also offered assistance to neighbourhood associations developing innovative ideas, and community hubs seeking to meet the challenges of hunger directly in their own neighbourhoods.

Helping a generous community share its food resources

The various ways in which donations find their way to the London Food Bank represent the ingenuity, compassion and commitment of the greater London community. The number of initiatives range from the Santa Claus parade to special food drives, from the efforts of companies to the collective activities of citizens, from school events to seniors' efforts, and from farmers to houses of faith. What an amazing community. Despite the significant increases in food bank use in recent years, a generous city has succesively donated enough supplies each year so that the demands have always been met.

Ontario has a broad network of food banks

Larger Cooperation

From its inception three decades ago, the London Food Bank has helped to provide leadership to a loose network of food banks spread throughout the province. We have been a charter member of the Ontario Association of Food Banks from its inception, acting as chair of the organization for a number of years. This is an important association, as food banks share resources, expertise, data, and support with one another. In addition, the London Food Bank has also served as a founding member of Food Banks Canada since it beginnings over 25 years ago. Both associations work together to not only share food across the regions but to inform leaders and policy makers of the encroaching nature of poverty and the troubling growth of hunger. The London Food Bank also subscribes to the Code of Ethics of both organizations.

How Is the London Food Bank Organized?

Since its inception in 1987, the London Food Bank has operated as a largely volunteer organization. Glen Pearson, along with his wife Jane Roy, serve as the organization's co-directors. In addition, the London Food Bank has five staff members overseeing everything from client interviews to volunteerism, and from food pickups to community networks.

Oversight of the organization falls to 10 volunteer board members representing various aspects of city life, including those with lived experience who have had to personally navigate the difficult journey of poverty. The board of directors meets monthly at the food bank and helps to guard the overall philosophy of the organization as a mostly volunteer organization. Our co-directors, are present at board meetings as ex officio (non-voting) members.

The London Food Bank is a charitable organization, registered with Revenue Canada, and capable of generating tax rceipts.


An operation as large as the London Food Bank requires strong connnections with other community and provincial organizations if it is to be successful. We not only work closely with those agencies to whom we supply food for their ongoing efforts, we dialogue and partner regularly with staff at the City of London, the Child and Youth Network, the Basic Needs Committee, the Middlesex London Health Unit, and numerous networks of food delivery organizations.

Getting Beyond Foodbanking

In recent years, poverty has become increasingly entrenched in every region of the country. Canada's cities have been meeting in search of new methods of reducing poverty and providing struggling families and individuals with a better quality of life. It hasn't been easy, and to date, solutions are still being explored.

Making a start on reducing poverty

From the beginning of its operation in 1987, the London Food Bank has maintained that, as poverty continues to increase at an unhealthy rate, our organization must not only work towards more long-term solutions to end hunger and poverty, but must help to lead such initiatives as well.

That is why the London Food Bank has partnered with the Sisters of St. Joseph, the London Community Foundation, and Kings University College to establish the London Poverty Research Centre (LPRC). Housed at Kings, this initiative brings together for the first time an extensive database of specifically London statistics that can provide a context for the next generation of anti-poverty measures. Now a permanent institution on the London scene, the LPRC at Kings will provide ongoing data and research to city organizations, the media, and the general public that is London specific and evidence-based.

But there is more. The London Food Bank is also cooperating with the City of London and the Middlesex London Health Unit to launch the London Food Policy Council. This city is surrounded by an abundance of some of the best soil and food in the entire world, and yet much of it never comes into the city but is sent out across the globe. One of the tasks of the food policy council is to determine how much food actually finds its way into the city and how we can better work with farmers, producers, and food companies to bring into our community better quality foodstuffs. In addition, the Food Policy Council will also work towards a more efficient model for diverting quality food from landfills and diverting it those who need it.

During the 1990s, the London Food Bank was asked to participate in the Mayor's Anti-Poverty Action Group. We also participating in the recent Mayor's Panel on Poverty (2016) in an effort to eliminate barriers to those in poverty and to probe for new ways to reduce poverty in our community.

The London Food Bank is a founding partner in all of these initiatives because we believe that any healthy and compassionate community must consistently work towards a future where poverty can be greatly reduced, even eliminated altogether. It remains a noble goal for London to reach for and the London Food Bank remains committed to providing leadership to that end in cooperation with others.

Because we live in such a generous community, we will always be open to discovering new ways of helping those on the margins. The London Food Bank thanks all of the individuals, organizations, media, and companies who have so generously donated over the years and who are presently working with us in our attempt to make hunger and poverty a thing of the past.

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