May 13, 2020 (TORONTO) – Aoyuan International is pleased to announce a donation of $25,000 to support the North York Harvest Food Bank. As developers of the landmark M2M master plan project located at Yonge and Finch, Aoyuan felt strongly compelled to support and build community resilience amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. North York Harvest Food Bank was selected as the recipient of the donation because of the persistent food security challenges vulnerable community members throughout the GTA face.
“Times of crisis present an opportunity for all of us to reflect on our values and find ways to support one another,” said Vince Santino, Senior Vice President, Development, Aoyuan International. “At Aoyuan International, we believe firmly in the importance of healthy lifestyles, which to us includes building strong communities. We wanted to find a meaningful way to help North York as we all face the COVID-19 pandemic together. We believe by donating to North York Harvest Food Bank and supporting their network of front-line agencies throughout the GTA, we can help their incredible team continue to do their vital work of ensuring everyone has access to food and that we can help them respond to the increased demand they are facing during these unprecedented times.”
As the primary food bank in northern Toronto, North York Harvest distributes more than two million pounds of food annually through a mix of neighbourhood programs and by supporting front-line service agencies. The majority of the front-line service agencies they support through food distribution have been forced to close due to their locations being in public spaces or because they were operated primarily by volunteers. In response to these closures, North York Harvest has partnered with Toronto Public Library to open new food spaces strategically located in close proximity to the closed front-line agencies. Still, North York Harvest has seen a surge of new clients accessing their agencies and higher than usual weekly visits from clients.
“Food security and hunger are complex and persistent issues in the GTA. These issues have become magnified as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the unprecedented challenges it presents,” said Henry Chiu, Director of Development and Marketing, North Harvest Food Bank. “We are so grateful for the support of Aoyuan during times like these. Their donation means we can continue to provide a safe environment for our frontline essential workers while also ensuring residents in need can access food through our North York Harvest network of agencies.”
The hockey rink at Oriole Community Centre has been converted to an emergency food space as a result of front-line agency closures and to accommodate increased visits while adhering to social distancing guidelines.
In addition to their partnership with Toronto Public Library, North York Harvest Food Bank has also begun operating out of a hockey rink in a closed community centre through a partnership with the City of Toronto. Using this space allows the organization to meet the increased demand from community members while also adhering to social distancing guidelines. With the $25,000 donation from Aoyuan, North York Harvest will be able to accommodate 16,000 food bank visits from 5,000 households throughout the month.