Providing Aid During COVID-19 Pandemic in Canada

by David McAntony Gibson Foundation
Providing Aid During COVID-19 Pandemic in Canada

Throughout the pandemic GlobalMedic has been working to support vulnerable Canadians during this tumultuous time. For the entirety of 2021, Canadians have been coping with a pandemic that seems to be constantly changing. The distribution of vaccines and re-opening of many provinces brought hope that then became interrupted by new waves and variants of COVID-19.

Existing issues like food insecurity and poverty were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to an increased need for food assistance across the country. According to the most recent "Who's Hungry" Report from the Daily Bread and North York Harvest food banks, the demand for food bank services has skyrocketed in the city. Between April 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021, there were a staggering 1.45 million visits to food banks in Toronto, representing a 47% increase over the previous year. Over that same period, new users of food banks and community food programs outnumbered existing users. This influx of clients put immense pressure on food banks and similar services, who also had to cope with declining donations and rising food costs. 

GlobalMedic has remained dedicated to tackling food insecurity in Canada by providing access to nutritious, culturally appropriate food that is easy for families to prepare. We continued operating our McAntony's Menu program throughout 2021 after its successful first year and partnered with local organizations to distribute food to those who needed it most. We accomplished this by purchasing items in large bulk bags and having volunteers repackage them into consumer-friendly sizes between 500g-700g. These foods included green peas, pearled barley, red lentils, rice, chickpeas, kidney beans, and green lentils. The smaller bags were then distributed to local food banks to be accessed by their users. The goal of the program has been to fill gaps in the supply chains of local food banks to help provide those in need with a consistent, reliable supply of shelf-stable items.

From February 2021 to December 2021, GlobalMedic distributed 694,908 lbs of McAntony's Menu to organizations in Ontario and across Canada. In addition to food banks, these items were received by schools, clinics, places of worship, and community organizations serving different vulnerable populations. By distributing the food to our partners, we were able to ensure that it reached those that needed it the most. In November and December of 2021, more than half of the McAntony's Menu items distributed by GlobalMedic were delivered through our Holiday Hustle Program. GlobalMedic partnered with 12 emergency service departments, and over a period of a couple of weeks, these paramedics, firefighters, and police officers delivered 64,043 lbs to organizations around Ontario.  

In 2021, the McAntony's Menu program at GlobalMedic did more than address food insecurity: it strengthened community. The packing site for this program was located in a former target store at Cloverdale Mall. The owners of the mall, QuadReal Property Developers, generously provided this space to our organization along with others such as the North York Harvest Food Bank, the Salvation Army, Furniture Bank, and the Humane Society. This partnership model created a small-scale social innovation hub, which allowed each organization to significantly increase their output while keeping staff and volunteers safe. Social impact hubs like this can provide space for charities to innovate, scale up existing projects, and collaborate with like-minded partners.

In addition to McAntony's Menu, GlobalMedic's domestic food program in 2021 also included the assembly and distribution of kits and hampers. Our Feed the Six Kits were assembled by volunteers and contained various staples foods like rice, legumes, and pasta. They also sometimes contained essentials like masks, hand sanitizer, or hygiene items. From February 2021 to December 2021, we assembled and distributed 10,719 Feed the Six Kits with our partners, including Hand Up Toronto, Toronto Community Housing, and the City of Toronto Rapid Rehousing Program, who then distributed the kits throughout Toronto to families in need, with some going to First Nations communities in Ontario. Together with the International Development and Relief Foundation (IDRF), we packed an additional 4,408 kits that were distributed to families in British Columbia, Quebec, and Ontario. 

The economic impacts of COVID-19 have led to many Canadians being unable to afford the things they need to keep safe and stop the spread. Throughout the pandemic, GlobalMedic has been donating personal protective equipment (PPE) to help vulnerable people better protect themselves from the virus. From February to December 2021, we distributed 67,695 litres of hand sanitizer; 162,805 cloth masks; 6,515 K95 masks, 14,520 medical masks and 14,061 face shields to those with limited access to PPE. To support proper handwashing, we also distributed 95,394 bars of soap and 315,086 hygiene items. The PPE and hygiene products were distributed both in our kits and in bulk to be given out at shelters, food banks, social services organizations, and vaccine clinics around Ontario.

Throughout 2021, kids and adults across Canada rolled up their sleeves to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Right from the start, GlobalMedic supported vaccination clinics run by public health units and community partners. Our dedicated volunteers were on-site at clinics across the Greater Toronto Area, helping with logistics, post-vaccine monitoring, and distribution of food and hygiene kits. We also delivered and installed critical infrastructure tents to both testing sites and vaccination clinics. These tents provided areas for service providers to administer tests and vaccines without taking up space in clinics and hospitals. The additional space also ensured that people could safely socially distance.

From February to December 2021, GlobalMedic supported 288 clinics across the GTA and helped 228,369 people get their first and second doses as well as their booster shots. One of our largest partners in this initiative was the Canadian Centre for Refugee and Immigrant Health Care (CCRIHC), which is committed to providing free health care to refugees and immigrants. This partnership focused on reaching at-risk individuals, particularly those that did not have a health card. This included undocumented individuals, asylum seekers, refugees, international visa students, and unhoused people. The CCRIHC vaccination clinics that GlobalMedic supported provided a safe, nonjudgmental environment for these individuals to get the protection they needed against COVID-19.

Even as we being to see a more normal return to life, GlobalMedic will continue working to support Canadians in need.

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GlobalMedic volunteers packing McAntony's Menu
GlobalMedic volunteers packing McAntony's Menu

Even as we begin to see public health restrictions loosen, we are still in the COVID-19 pandemic and there are so many people who are struggling to deal with its impacts. GlobalMedic is working to meet the needs of individuals and other community organizations during this challenging time when consistent support is needed more than ever.

We have been working to support those accessing food bank through our McAntony's Menu program. This program provides food banks and food assistance programs with pantry staple items like rice, lentils and chickpeas. We bring in large 50lb bags of these items in bulk and out volunteers dedicate their time to repacking it into smaller consumer friendly bags. The bags have been designed to model retail products and give food bank users the dignity of accessing the same types of products that are sold on the shelves of grocery stores. Since the program began in February 2020, we have delivered more than 1.4 million pounds of food to families in need.

Programs like this have been so important during the COVID-19 pandemic as more and more Canadians have begun accessing food banks. The increased demand for food assistance is not going away and the pandemics impacts on food security will extend for years to come.

Donations to this project help us to reach more Canadians who are impacted by the pandemic. Please consider a donation if you are able.

Volunteers delivering McAntony's Menu food
Volunteers delivering McAntony's Menu food
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GlobalMedic Volunteers Assisting at Vaccine Clinic
GlobalMedic Volunteers Assisting at Vaccine Clinic

Over the last months as we moved through another wave of COVID-19 and began to see vaccination efforts ramp up, GlobalMedic staff and volunteers have been working hard to adapt to emerging needs and continuing to support those affected by the pandemic. 

Most notably, we have been assisting with COVID-19 vaccination clinics in Toronto, supporting more than 200,000 people in getting their vaccine. Our volunteers have been supporting non-clinical activities for these clinics through crowd control, post-vaccine monitoring, canvasing and any other task as it comes up to help these events run smoothly.

Additionally, many of the pop-up clinics we are assisting with have been located in lower income neighbourhoods that have felt extreme impacts of the pandemic. We have therefore been distributing items like grocery hampers, hygiene kits, hand sanitizer and masks to those who attend the clinic.

As more and more people get vaccinated and the country continues to open up, we will remain working hard to ensure those most vulnerable who will feel the pandemic’s impact even as restrictions loosen are supported.

Please consider a donation to this response. All funds will be used to support COVID-19 programs in Canada.

Assembling 50,000 Food Hampers
Assembling 50,000 Food Hampers
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On March 11, 2020, The World Health Organization declared the spread of the COVID-19 virus to be a global pandemic. Shortly after that, many provinces and territories in Canada began declaring states of emergency due to the rapid spread of the virus. The methods required to help stop the spread resulted in the closure of many businesses, causing economic strain in many households. Front line agencies like food banks and low-income support programs began to see demand for their services increase dramatically, while at the same time seeing their donations stagnate and facing limits to their operations due to safety protocols. This pandemic has affected 100% of Canadians in some way, but those who were already living in vulnerable or precarious situations have borne the brunt of the impact.

GlobalMedic immediately mobilized to start responding to emerging needs both abroad and at home. Our domestic programming has increased significantly over the last year as we have raced to reach as many people in need as we can. We have seen many changes to our operations, including adjusting how we run packing events to make sure we are operating in the safest way for our staff and volunteers.

We opened multiple packing sites over the last year and formed amazing partnerships with groups we would not have otherwise had the chance to work with. We have deployed every resource we have available in our response to this pandemic and we will continue to do so until there begins to be a reprieve.

If you are interested in reading in details about everything that we have worked on as part of our COVID-19 Response (between March 2020 and January 2021), please take a look at the attached report.

Donations to this project will continue to be used towards our COVID-19 Response here in Canada. Please consider a donation to help us increase our impact.

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GlobalMedic staff and volunteers are continuing to work to respond to the emergent needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic. We have continued to work with our local partners to support families who are being affected.

As part of our continued support of those accessing shelters and low-income support programs, we have distributed more than 41,000 individual hygiene kits, 2,600 family hygiene kits, 1,000 clean-up kits and 47,400 bars of soap. We have also delivered more than 36,000 Thank You Kits to frontline workers.

Consistent handwashing and mask wearing are two of the first lines of defence against the spread of COVID-19. To continue promoting this message, we have distributed more than 15,400 COVID Safety Kits which contain a bar of soap and a reusable mask.

We have continued to ramp up production for our Emergency Food Program. We have delivered more than 196,500 kg of dried food staples to food banks and food assistance programs. We have also provided more than 26,000 grocery hampers through our Feed the Six program and our partnership with the North York Harvest Food Bank.

As COVID cases continue to rise, we will continue to adapt and serve the needs of the many families who have been affected by the pandemic. Please consider a donation to support our response.

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Organization Information

David McAntony Gibson Foundation

Location: Etobicoke, ON - Canada
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @globalmedicdmgf
Project Leader:
Chantel Kehoe
Finance Director
Etobicoke, ON Canada

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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