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GTA food banks kick off food drive events as demand rises through COVID-19 pandemic

Click to play video: 'GTA food banks struggling with usage at record levels' GTA food banks struggling with usage at record levels
WATCH ABOVE: Two GTA food banks are holding Thanksgiving food drives in an effort to meet demand. Catherine Mcdonald reports. – Oct 8, 2021

Drive-thru food drive events are happening around the Greater Toronto Area Saturday to mark the second Thanksgiving long weekend during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Toronto’s Daily Bread Food Bank kicked off their event in Etobicoke from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Neil Hetherington, CEO of the Daily Bread Food Bank, said they are seeing a lot more demand this year.

“We have seen a rise in food bank usage from about 60,000 to a high this June of 124,000 client visits and so that’s why we need events like this. To raise food, to raise funds, and most importantly, raise awareness so that individuals who are watching this will advocate for systemic change,” he said.

Read more: Ask family members if they’re vaccinated before inviting to Thanksgiving, top doctors say

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In a statement, the service said they are expecting to hit a record number of visits this year.

“Pre-pandemic, there were close to 1-million visits to food banks in Toronto. At current usage rates, food bank visits are expected to reach 1.4 million by the end of this year – the highest number ever recorded in our city’s history,” the statement read.

Click to play video: 'Fighting food insecurity in Toronto ahead of Thanksgiving weekend' Fighting food insecurity in Toronto ahead of Thanksgiving weekend
Fighting food insecurity in Toronto ahead of Thanksgiving weekend – Sep 28, 2021

They hope to raise 30,000 pounds of food Saturday and reach their goal of 284,000 pounds by the end of the month.

Residents are invited to drop off their non-perishable food items at the Daily Bread Food Bank’s warehouse at 191 New Toronto St. up until Oct. 31. Monetary donations are also accepted online.

Read more: Londoners enjoy looser rules for second Thanksgiving amid the COVID-19 pandemic

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Meanwhile in Mississauga, mayor Bonnie Crombie hosted the drive-thru event known as Mayor Crombie’s 2021 Thanksgiving Food Drive in collaboration with The Mississauga Food Bank.

Crombie said the need for donations is more important now than ever.

“As a result of COVID, and so many industries downsizing, we’ve had over 167 per cent increase in new individuals accessing food at the food bank,” said Mayor Crombie.

Read more: Mobile food market takes aim at food insecurity in rural Ontario

The Mississauga Food Bank is inviting community members to bring non-perishable foods or personal care items to their warehouse at 3121 Universal Dr. through until Oct. 17.

They hope to reach a goal of 200,000 pounds of food and raise $400,000.

Residents can also make a monetary donation in-person or on their website.

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