If you are having trouble paying for nutritious food, your local food bank can help you get some. A Food Bank is a place where you can go to pick up food for free. The type of foods you will find includes dry foods (like rice, or dry beans) and non-perishable goods (food that won’t go bad, like canned peas).
The amount of food you receive depends on the number of people in your family and on how much food the bank has available. Most food banks in Ontario give a 3-day supply of food once or twice per month.
Where can I find a food bank?
There are approximately 600 food banks in Ontario.
To find one near your house, you can:
- Search 211 Ontario - Visit the 211 Ontario website and search for food banks under their “Food” category. You can sort results by location to find food banks closer to you. If you live in Toronto, Halton Region, Niagara Region, Simcoe County, Windsor-Essex, Thunder Bay and District, Ottawa, and Peel Region, you can dial 211 on your phone. Ask where the nearest food bank is. You can talk to someone in your language. They will ask you for your postal code and address, so have these ready.
- Visit the Ontario Association of Food Banks (OAFB) website for a list of food banks in Ontario. Find one in your area, and nearest to your home.
- Google Search for food banks in your city. Not all food banks are listed on the OAFB website, so a Google search might help you find one even closer to where you live.
- Call the FoodLink Hotline (416-392-6655) if you live in Toronto. They can find a food bank for you, or other services like low-cost meals and community gardens and kitchens.
How do I prove that I need the food?
When you visit a food bank, they will ask you to demonstrate financial need. This means that they need to know if you are having trouble paying for food.
They will ask you about:
- The number of people in your family
- Your income and expenses
- Your place of residence
To prove the above, Food Banks will ask you for these documents the first time you visit. Don’t forget to bring them with you!
- Identification for each family member (any type of photo ID card, like a Driver’s Licence, from any country)
- Proof of address (a lease or any piece of mail with your name and address on it)
- Proof of expenses (bills or rent)
- Proof of income (pay stubs or income tax information)
What else can I find at a food bank?
Food banks may also be able to help you find used furniture, or you may have access to a social worker though your local food bank. If you are unsure, ask the food bank staff for more information on their other services.
You may also be able to volunteer at a food bank. Volunteers usually run food banks. If you need to finish volunteer hours think about volunteering at a food bank. If you are interested, ask a Food Bank worker about opportunities.