‘Stronger Together’: Coronavirus relief special raises over $6M for Food Banks Canada

Click to play video 'Stronger Together: Alessia Cara performs ‘You’ve Got a Friend in Me’ to help raise funds for Food Banks Canada' Stronger Together: Alessia Cara performs ‘You’ve Got a Friend in Me’ to help raise funds for Food Banks Canada
Canadian singer Alessia Cara lent her soulful voice to the Stronger Together, Tous Ensemble broadcast to help raise funds for Food Banks Canada, performing the song made famous in Toy Story, ‘You’ve Got a Friend in Me’ – Apr 26, 2020

The star-studded Stronger Together, Tous Ensemble broadcast raised over $6 million in donations for Food Banks Canada, a number that the non-profit organization expects to reach $10 million by the end of the week.

The 90-minute special featuring a number of A-list performers and celebrities was broadcast Sunday night on dozens of TV stations, streaming and radio platforms. It also served as a national salute to front-line workers in the fight against COVID-19.

“It just makes you proud to be Canadian,” Food Banks Canada chief executive officer Chris Hatch said Monday. “The generosity that was exhibited last night and ongoing today, as we speak, it’s just heartwarming.”

The Food Banks Canada website experienced delays due to the high volume of donations. Funds go towards food purchasing, distribution and resourcing within food banks.

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“We added extra volunteers, extra phone lines and we put on extra servers,” Hatch said. “We increased our bandwidth in anticipation of the generosity, but we had no idea the amount of generosity coming forth and we couldn’t keep up with it.”

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Broadcast ratings information was expected to be released later Monday. Food Banks Canada will likely provide updated donation figures later in the week.

Hatch said there were 20 staffers handling donations on the phone Monday afternoon and that funds were still being raised via text and the ( website.

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Before the pandemic, there were about 1.1 million visits per month at food banks across the country. Usage has risen 20 per cent over the last four weeks, Hatch said.

The organization recently launched a $150-million COVID-19 special appeal to help ensure food banks can continue their work.

“Those funds go right back out to the food banks we support directly and indirectly right across the country,” he said. “And they’re mainly being used to replenish the shelves.

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“I mean the food is going out faster that’s coming in, so it’s really to get food on the shelves to deal with the demand that we see today and the increased demand we expect around the corner.”

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Food Banks Canada directly supports 700 food banks and indirectly supports 2,300 others across Canada, Hatch said.