Food Services

Food Services
It’s hard to imagine what it’s like to have to turn to a food bank, soup kitchen or school feeding program in order to have a meal.  But for too many Canadians, it is a reality they face day in and day out.

Last year, 3.2 million free meals were served at Salvation Army shelters and feeding programs. Guests include families with children, employed people whose low wages don’t cover basic living essentials, individuals on social assistance, and Canadians living on a fixed income, which includes seniors and people with disabilities.

Food Banks

Food BanksLast year, Salvation Army food banks assisted close to 1.1 million men, women and children.

According to Food Banks Canada, each month, over 850,000 people turn to food banks for help and more than one-third are children and youth.

“Sometimes my kids say ‘my tummy hurts’”, says Barbara. “Knowing they are hungry, and I can’t afford to feed them, makes me cry every day.”

Rising food and fuel prices, static incomes, high unemployment and changes to benefits are causing many families to struggle to put food on the table, let alone buy basic necessities. Individuals experiencing food insecurity are forced to choose between buying food and paying other bills. Parents choose between eating dinner and giving their portion to their children.

At many Salvation Army food banks clients select the food they want, similar to shopping at a grocery store. This restores self-esteem and reduces the stress and humiliation of asking for food.

“Coming to the food bank keeps me calm,” says Barbara. “And the encouragement I get makes me feel I am worthy of much more.”

Community Meals

Last year The Salvation Army provided 1.8 million free community meals to vulnerable men, women and children―anyone who is hungry.

Salvation Army community meal programs provide nutritious free meals in a caring manner that dignifies and respects the individual. These meals often act as a gateway to access other Salvation Army services.

Guests may be newcomers who don’t know anyone, the unemployed or underemployed, the lonely, addicted, mentally ill, and/or physically disabled. Everybody is welcome to eat in a safe and friendly atmosphere.

Meal times vary from location to location and guests are served to help maintain their dignity. Guests tend to interact with one another throughout the meal and share about their difficult times with each other and staff. The food is often a gateway to receiving further assistance from The Salvation Army.

“There are days when I don’t have a lot to eat,” says Diana. “Coming to the community meal fills my stomach. Going without food―it’s not very good. And when I’m chatting with friends here, I feel great.”

School Meals

Imagine starting your school day hungry and unable to focus on what your teacher is saying because of your growling stomach and pounding headache. For one in seven Canadian children, this is a reality

Last year, The Salvation Army provided 184,000 school meals through breakfast, lunch and weekend backpack programs.

“It surprised me to learn how many kids go to school hungry in Canada,” says Lieut. Dae-Gun Kim of The Salvation Army. “Children can’t prepare for their future when they are hungry for food.”

By providing food for children, The Salvation Army’s school nutrition programs not only help combat hunger, improve energy and focus in the classroom, they relieve families of the stress and guilt of not being able to provide for their kids.

“Hunger hurts,” says Mark. “I’ve experienced it firsthand.  When food was scarce because both parents worked for low wages, I cried a lot because I was hungry. And you can’t learn when your stomach hurts.”