Janet Monk June_2’21

SFSI & TPS Team Up

By Janet Monk

The Scarborough Food Security Initiative has partnered with the Toronto Police Service 41 Division to bring hampers of food to people in need. “I’m a part of the Community Police Liaison Committee, CPLC for 41 Division,” said SFSI’s Chair of the Board of Directors, Suman Roy. “At a meeting we were discussing how the police can integrate better with the community – especially at this time of need – and actually try to help the most vulnerable.” Every two weeks, about a dozen officers arrive at the SFSI warehouse to build fifty baskets of immediately consumable and non-perishable goods to store in their cruisers. Then, whenever officers come across someone in need on their routes, they give them a hamper of food. “Our local Inspector, James Hung, was very supportive. The day after our meeting, he called and asked how soon we could get started. By the next week we were up and running.”

The hampers include things like granola bars, juice boxes, and soups. “The initiative is picking up steam right now,” said Roy. “We had 43 Division, which is right next to us, reach out last week and ask if they can do the same and if we can provide them food.” So far, the effect of the program has been positively received by the community. “Police were called because of a panhandler. Everybody around thought he would be arrested and taken away,” Roy said, recalling a story told by a 41 Division officer at a recent CPLC meeting. “But the officers went there, spoke to the guy, and realized he hadn’t eaten any food that whole day. They gave him 2 bags of food, and he sat on the road and started eating right away. After that, they asked him what help he needed. He needed a ride to a shelter, and so they gave him a ride to the shelter.”

In addition to their new police partnership, the SFSI currently operates four food banks, offers delivery, runs a mobile meal program, has an online store, and plans on running two community gardens in 2021. “A couple of years ago, the SFSI was just a small community-led initiative and our goal weas to spread the word of inequity, hunger, and poverty in our backyard,” said Roy. The SFSI’s warehouse will soon be moving to a new, larger location at St. Clair Avenue East and Danforth Road to meet increased demand and support any further growth of the police hamper initiative. “My hope is if we can at least start with 41 and 43 Divisions, and it is successful, then other non-profit organizations across the city can partner with their local divisions and do the same.”

~ Janet Monk is an Author and Copy Editor with an HBA in Creative Writing, History, and Music and Culture from the University of Toronto – Scarborough. To make an inquiry or leave a comment, please send an email to janet.monk@alum.utoronto.ca.