York’s Day of Caring event takes volunteers to Foodshare

York University’s second annual Day of Caring took place on Nov. 27. The Day of Caring is part of York’s United Way Campaign and offers participants an opportunity to see how a United Way funded agency works within the community.

For this year’s Day of Caring, students from the Atkinson STARS program and staff from York’s Office of the Ombudsperson & Centre for Human Rights and Office of University Events & Community Relations spent the day at Foodshare, a not-for-profit community organization known for its Good Food Box program.

Above: Some members of York’s Day of Caring team. Back row, from left: Selwyn McSween, Diane Stadnicki, York students Kaazmi Manji and Sally Goreal, Mary Collins, Kinnon Elliot. Front row, from left: Farayi Mundangepfupfu, Denise DeSanctis, and Foodshare employee Anna La.

Founded in 1985, Foodshare works to solve hunger and food issues. The organization is involved at the grassroots level in delivery of fresh fruit and vegetables to the community, nutrition education, preservation of farmland and campaigning for better food labelling. Foodshare specializes in self-help models for solving hunger including cooperative buying systems, collective kitchens and community gardens. A successful initiative of Foodshare is the Good Food Box program, which makes top quality fresh fruit and vegetables available to houses, apartment buildings, churches – anywhere there are eight to ten people who want to buy a box of fresh produce. The food is purchased directly from farmers and from the Ontario Food Terminal. Volunteers pack it into green reusable boxes and customers pay the cost of the food itself, while distribution overheads are subsidized.

Left: One of 1,000 boxes packed by the team

The York volunteers were given a tour of Foodshare’s Toronto facilities and were provided with an overview of the Foodshare program. The York team was given a healthy and hearty lunch and spent the rest of the day packing 1,000 Good Food Boxes that were later distributed by Foodshare across the Greater Toronto Area.

"The day was an amazing one," said Sue Levesque, Chair of York’s 2007 United Way Campaign. "It was fantastic to spend time inside a United Way sponsored agency and to see first hand the work supported through our donations. It was also an incredible opportunity for our STARS students to see what work in a not-for-profit environment is like and how rewarding it can be."

York’s 2007 United Way Campaign officially concluded on Nov. 30, but campaign donations are still being accepted until the end of January. If you’d like to make a donation and haven’t received a pledge card, e-mail Sue Levesque at levesque@yorku.ca and she will forward a pledge card to you.

As of Jan. 8, members of the York University community had donated $170,000 toward the University’s $190,000 goal for 2007.

"That’s about 90 per cent of the way toward our $190,000 goal," said Levesque. "Let’s keep filling the Y!"

For more information, visit York University’s United Way Web page on the University Events & Community Relations Web site. Visit the United Way of Greater Toronto Web site to learn more about the campaign and the people who benefit from the organization.