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Toronto Soup Kitchens and Food Banks

Posted by Chrissy Aitchison / December 12, 2009

Toronto Soup KitchensToronto soup kitchens and food banks are especially busy this time of year as they juggle their standard operations with special offerings designed to share the seasonal festivities with the city's marginalized. And with the economy on shaky ground for most of the past two years these organizations are reporting significantly increased usage alongside a decline in donations.

Want to help out? Here's just a sampling of Toronto soup kitchens, food banks and other organizations that need donations and volunteers to ensure everyone in Toronto gets the opportunity to be fed and festive this holiday season and beyond.

Good Shepherd Ministries

Good Shepherd Ministries offer food, shelter, clothing and more to anyone in need. They report they're serving 50% more meals this year than they did in 2008, while food drive donations have decreased. The most urgently-needed items are food and personal hygiene supplies - details can be found on GSM's Wish List (PDF). Monetary donations also make a big difference in keeping the programs running and the lights & heat on for the long Toronto winter.

GSM is already heavily booked with volunteers for the holiday season, but encourages Torontonians to make a New Years resolution to volunteer in 2010. Volunteer opportunities include making beds, sorting food, helping in the kitchen, folding laundry, and working in the drop-in. Jobs involving contact with clients have an application process that can take a few weeks, but for jobs like making beds and folding laundry, simply call and book one of the available time slots. To volunteer, fill out an application online, or contact Rebecca at (416) 869-3619, ext. 262.

North York Harvest Food Bank

North York Harvest Food Bank's winter food drive is on until January 4th. Financial contributions can be made online through or by phone with a credit card by calling 416-635-7771. Nutritious, non-perishable food items can be dropped off at local fire halls in northern Toronto and participating supermarkets. This season, North York Harvest is offering holiday cards for purchase in packs of 5 or 10 (for an additional cost you can have them personalized!). Cards can be ordered by contacting Mary Del Bianco at 416-635-7771 ext. 21.

North York Harvest Food Bank also relies on volunteers in a variety of roles, including general reception duties, greeting the public, entering office data and filing, sorting food, driving and assisting drivers for donation pick-ups, and helping plan and run special events. To help out, contact Lisa Anderson, Manager of Volunteer Services at 416-635-7771 ext. 29.

The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army's main focus during the Christmas season is two-fold: toys and cash. The cash donated in the Christmas Kettles, online, by phone, text or in the mail is used to help those in need all year round, including Christmas. It helps clothe, feed, counsel, and house. The Salvation Army gives Christmas food hampers with food collected and also uses gift cards to grocery stores, so that people can feel good about buying their own food. To donate, visit, phone 1-800-SAL-ARMY or text "Hope" to 45678 (a $5 donation will be added to your bill).

During the holiday season, some Salvation Army shelters will need servers and people to prepare the eating area. They also need volunteer Bell-Ringers, to stand at their kettles (you can also create a virtual "iKettle"). To volunteer, contact your local Salvation Army, or call Salvation Army's the volunteer coordinator at 416-321-2654.

Toronto Soup Kitchens

The Stop Community Food Centre

The Stop Community Food Centre offers a full spectrum of programs and services designed to increase food access and education, as well as a sense of community and civic engagement. Initiatives include everything from community kitchens and gardens, cooking classes, drop-in meals, peri-natal support, a food bank, outdoor bake ovens, food markets to community advocacy. To volunteer at the food bank or drop-in, contact Volunteer Coordinator Susan MacDonald at the coordinates listed here.

The Stop is running a "Gifts that Matter" campaign this holiday season. By making a $25 donation, you can purchase a food hamper for a family in need on behalf of someone on your Christmas giving list. Contact with the name(s) of the people you'd like to honour and for every $25 donation The Stop will send them a card saying that you've done so. To ensure card delivery prior to December 25th, your list of names should be submitted no later than December 14th.

Toronto Soup Kitchens

The Yonge Street Mission

The Yonge Street Mission had over 189,000 visits to their various programs and services in 2009, serving everyone from families trapped in the cycle of poverty, immigrants struggling in a new country, lonely and shut-in seniors, socially marginalized adults to homeless street youth. During the holiday season, the YSM food bank continues to distribute most-needed items, along with seasonal fare like chickens, turkeys, halal foods, cookies and other treats. YSM also hosts Christmas parties and banquets for the groups they serve, and coordinates the delivery of hampers filled with food/gifts to seniors and shut-ins. To see what items are most needed this holiday season, check out YSM's Holiday Wish List (PDF).

Holiday volunteer opportunities
(PDF) are booking up fast! YSM needs people in a wide variety of roles, including receiving and sorting food, greeting and assisting food bank clients, helping with YSM's annual ornament sale fundraiser, and preparing, serving and cleaning up after YSM's various Christmas parties and banquets. Visit the YSM website for a full list of volunteer opportunities, details on how to get involved, or to make a monetary donation. Volunteers can also contact Ruth Pentinga at 416-929-9614 ext. 4236.

Fort York Food Bank

The Fort York Food Bank is well covered by their regular volunteers and corporate groups for the holiday season, but will be needing volunteers early in 2010 for their annual TTC Blitz. Watch the Fort York Food Bank website and newsletter for volunteer opportunities, which may be in any of the following areas: advocacy & counselling, graphic design & advertising, food sorting, community kitchen, special events, telephone reception & administration, computer resource centre, community garden and the FYFB Board of Directors. Fill out an online form to start the process.

Second Harvest

Second Harvest's annual Turkey Drive campaign is on this weekend! The goal? To raise 6,000 turkeys and $60,000 for people in need. Last weekend they hit the 2,000 mark for turkeys and $15,000 in donations (to see how donations are used, click here). Visit one of the following Loblaws stores Saturday, December 12th or Sunday, December 13th between 9am and 6pm to help them hit their target!

* Leslie & Lakeshore - 17 Leslie Street
* Moore & Bayview - 301 Moore Avenue
* Queens Quay Market - 10 Lower Jarvis Street
* Victoria Park & Gerrard - 50 Musgrave Street
* Yonge St. & Yonge Blvd. - 3501 Yonge Street
* Dupont & Christie - 650 Dupont Street

You can also contribute to the campaign by donating online or calling 416-408-2594.

Second Harvest is also running a holiday eBay auction. 100% of the net proceeds will help to feed hungry children and families, allowing Second Harvest to pick up and prepare excess fresh food and deliver it daily to hundreds of social service programs.

Daily Bread Food Bank

Daily Bread Food Bank's holiday food drive is on from November 27th until January 4th. You can donate online, call 416-203-0050, or drop off non-perishable food donations to your local fire hall, Loblaws or Metro.

The most urgently-needed food items are: baby food & formula, canned fish & meat, peanut butter, canned fruits & vegetables, lentils & beans, powdered, canned or Tetra Pak milk, tomato sauce, dried pasta, cans of soup or hearty stew, and rice.

Most of these organizations will help arrange a pick-up if you have a contribution for their donation drives, so don't get discouraged by the logistics! This list is by no means exhaustive - to find out more, you can look up other local food banks here and community kitchens here.

Toronto Soup Kitchens



Chester Pape / December 12, 2009 at 09:14 am
No snark today, this is just plain nice and a timely reminder. I might also suggest adding to the list the Out of the Cold programs run around the city by various churches.
denning / December 12, 2009 at 10:28 am
There's also the <a href="";>Lawyers Feed the Hungry</a> program, which serves meals in the cafeteria of Osgoode Hall on Sunday and Thursday mornings and Wednesday and Friday evenings. You don't have to be involved in the law to volunteer and many aren't.
Moi / December 12, 2009 at 11:23 am
PERFECT POST! Give now. Waaaaaaaaay b4 Xmas. If you can't give a donation or TOY,,,,,,,,,then GIVE OF YOURSELF......your time:)
elmo / December 12, 2009 at 12:08 pm
Don't forget to read the Salvation Army's position statements before deciding who to donate to...

It is a Christian organization, and as such it is pro-life, anti-euthanasia, anti-gay, and anti-porn (WHY??). Give your money and toys to somebody else.
Moi / December 12, 2009 at 12:13 pm
I give to friends/families who know Families that TRULY NEED IT:)

ELMO: sure the Salvation Army has 'position statements' but I think its not about THEIR position, but the positionnnnnnnn of those who are IN NEED.

The Beerad replying to a comment from elmo / December 12, 2009 at 05:33 pm
Elmo, being Christian does not mean being "pro-life, anti-euthanasia, anti-gay"... I'm a member of a church downtown and not any of these things. Jesus wasn't anything like George Bush.
elmo replying to a comment from The Beerad / December 12, 2009 at 07:41 pm
Don't be thick. You know what I'm saying. But now you've forced me to spell it out: not all Christians are pro-life, anti-euthanasia, anti-gay, and anti-porn.... but the Salvation Army IS and they say so on their website. Got it?
? / December 12, 2009 at 11:43 pm
does anyone care to comment on the idea that food banks are just a band-aid solution and don't really address the root of the issue of hunger and poverty? i think the analogy is: give a man a fish, he eats for a day. teach a man to fish, he eats forever.
denning / December 13, 2009 at 12:35 am
there's merit to that but, to continue with that metaphor, the man is hungry today and most individuals aren't equipped to teach him to fish right here and now

food banks and soup kitchens serve an immediate and urgent need, i don't think they displace the larger societal responsibility of helping people be self-sufficient through education etc

it's sort of related to the comments above re the salvation army...i strongly disagree with their views, but i still think they're doing good so long as they're fighting hunger and helping the poor...wouldn't you rather people be religious than starving?

also they say on the website that those views aren't binding, but they are guiding principles

CS / December 13, 2009 at 08:50 am
There's also the relatively new Ontario Vegetarian Food Bank!

Chrissy Aitchison / December 13, 2009 at 12:29 pm
? - Most of these organizations offer a lot more than meals and/or groceries. As just a quick example:

"The Stop’s Drop-in also offers services in partnership with other agencies – including an ID clinic, housing and legal services, a settlement worker and dietetic counseling. We also offer workshops on tenants’ and employment rights and food demonstrations on how to make low-cost, healthy, delicious meals."

The Good Shepherd Centre is similar -- they have a drug & alcohol recovery program, a resettlement service, a medical clinic, etc.

Those are just a few examples off the top. But in general, I would guess that these organizations probably understand better than most that in order to truly help people who use their services they need to address the root causes of poverty, not just the symptoms.
badbhoy replying to a comment from elmo / December 13, 2009 at 02:23 pm
I knew as soon as I read this post that some ass would feel the need to suggest that the Salvation Army has a religious agenda and therefore is not worthy of donations.

The least you could do is suggest a non-religious alternative but apparently your priority is to disparage a charity over feeding the poor. Good for you.
jen replying to a comment from badbhoy / December 14, 2009 at 10:19 am
Doesn't the article do a good enough job of covering "non-religious alternatives"? The Salvation Army has actively fought against gay rights and gay marriage, there's lots of evidence out there. I'd rather my money didn't go to an organization with that kind of agenda.
AHaines replying to a comment from elmo / December 21, 2009 at 02:55 pm
I am interested in doing a news story on the Salvation Army.
could you contact me?
AHaines replying to a comment from jen / December 21, 2009 at 02:58 pm
hoping you will contact me about a story I
want to put together on the salvation army.
contact me at
Dorian / April 27, 2010 at 03:39 am
There's all sorts of websites about how to donate and who's offering help, but it's not easy to find information about where and when these meals actually are. Perhaps because of misconceptions about the poor/homeless not having better internet access than the average college student?

So here is a meal calendar and map:

Compared to Toronto's restaurants, these meals are healthier and tastier, the service is faster and friendlier, even the clientele is less irritating than the average Drake Cafe crowd, and seriously if you have cash, come by, eat for free, and drop a donation on them. You won't get rolled for not being broke or cracked out enough.
caroline / May 5, 2010 at 06:24 pm
Please contact me by email. My daughter turns 14 in June. She would like to start volunteering because the WANTS to. Please email me the organizations (homeless, soup kitchen, food bank) that will accept her. She is particularly interested in a soup kitchen, but will give where needed.
S.Floreal / September 18, 2010 at 01:16 pm
I am turning 14 this October and would like to volunteer in a charity organization but I do not know if they will accept my (because of my age). If you know any organizations I can volunteer in would you please email me.
Thank you
I.Elzinie / October 30, 2010 at 07:40 pm
heey im 15 :)
and i want to volunteer at a soup kitchen;
i think itll be fun and its just another way for me to help out in this community (Y)
i live in scarborough; but i dont mind traveling downtown.
so could you email me where and when i can volunteer at a soup kitchen, or ANYTHING ! <-- thats my email :)
Christine / November 22, 2010 at 04:50 pm
i am 13 years old and are gr.8 class will like to help out some time. can we give out food or wash dishes. we will like to help in enery way. i will talk to my principal adout this can you send something back to me at if you will want ot call my school and talk to them that will be geart the number is 905-426-7064 and tell that you will like all the gr.8 to help out with Toronto Soup Kitchens

thank you
ps call or send a emial
Christine replying to a comment from I.Elzinie / November 22, 2010 at 05:21 pm
we need to vlunteer befor christmas and before the 17 of December so may be 1to the 15

thank you
ps call or send a email us
Mark / November 30, 2010 at 09:21 am
Looking to donate my time for Christmas eve..I will be away Christmas Day,but would like to Give back a little.I would like to work for the day at a place feeding the unfortunate people of Toronto.I can help prepare the meal,bring it to the table,clean up any help that is needed Iam available for the full day..anyone have advice
Ella Ludwig replying to a comment from elmo / February 16, 2011 at 01:50 pm
In response to the Salvation Army bigotry note:

They're not like that because they're Christian. Every other place I go to for free food is Christian and the Sally Anne folks are the only ones who love to hate. What about the United Church on Wright Ave and their Sunday dinners? They're TOTALLY out there. And the Good Shepherd is SO CHILL, all sorts of people show up and take part, and I haven't even seen any patrons gaybash others.
eve / March 9, 2011 at 12:57 pm
please contact me if you know of or are a jewish lady, under 45 years old, in distress, in need of food, shelter, and basic necessities!

we may be able to help you!

s replying to a comment from ? / March 12, 2011 at 02:19 pm
I am in agreement, we are in bad times but if you do your research, it's a lot of religious groups operating free rooms, meals, laundry and food bank style operations and while don't always outright preach, they takes vows of poverty to help the poor, less fortunate, etc and it becomes a lifestyle of choice for many. Google, Harvest house, Zacchaeus house, Catholic Workers Movement, check it out. We could all choose to live like this vs living in the world, and some of these groups have other causes behind them.

I guess my point is, the more we give the more some can take, I can afford today a meal, so does the soup kitchen know that or can I eat for free today. That's the basic point. There is a need, some take advantage and some are driven by organizations trying to do that right thing, but they as well receives grants, local funding, they own used item stores, sell bread, etc. Some will argue the smaller organizations often pay themselves quite well to do this "godly" work.

In Canada go goggle Charity listing returns' type in a church or food bank, or check by status, revoked charities, will see the bigger picture.

We must teach to fish, etc, etc.
Dorian / April 1, 2011 at 10:06 am
The more we give the more some can take?

Okay: it's a hassle to get to a specific place, to show up within a very small margin of time, in order to wait in line for food that you do not choose pretty much filters out those who can afford the convenience of eating out or buying their own food.

And I keep hearing about how these places probably make tons of cash and it's a big cash grab and I'd like to see some proof of that because that's a pretty serious (and dubious) contention. So bite your tongue or put up some data.
The Homeless / April 9, 2011 at 02:37 pm
A really great way to benefit these programs is to actually show up, have a meal WITH those who are suffering from poverty and hunger, and then donate whatever the meal was worth to you, $5 or $10 or whatever, to those who are co-ordinating the volunteers. You can have a great lunch and pay for it, which is what you want, and you can also get a window into what's actually happening for these people, which is poverty and mental illness. But you can also see a lot of hope and happiness at these places!

Every single person who shows up to these programs truly needs it. After three years of relying on these, on a daily basis, I can say that I have never seen one person in line for these soup kitchens who seems like they could go out and buy themselves some groceries and make themselves a nice lunch... so I don't want this "smart-asses working the system" image to gain any momentum.

People on welfare go to these things because they spent their "basic needs" money on their rent, and they spent their "transportation" money on their utilities, because welfare includes only about $350 for rent AND utilities, and calls anything above that "high rent." We all know that $480/month inclusive is NOT high rent. These programs fill in for what emergency services gloss over and ignore.
Kath McLaughlin / July 4, 2011 at 07:38 pm
Hello. I am looking for my sister who frequents the soup kitchens in the yonge bloor st. Clair area.
Her name is Debbie. We have not had contact for at least 15 years.
She is 50 years old as of January 9th.
5'5" tall. Brown/grey hair. I was told she pushes a baby stroller around.
Please contact me if you have any information
Kathy 705-627-9298
BrittneyElizabeth / January 17, 2012 at 02:45 pm
I'm an 18 year old student and I took the year off to make money for university next year. I'm looking to volunteer at a soup kitchen for a month or two before september... I'm interested in going to medical school and -when finished -using my skills as a doctor to help the needy. :) Looking to get my foot in the door for a couple of months! :)

If you are associated with a soup kitchen in toronto and know I'd be a help, please email me! :)
karen burley / April 24, 2012 at 10:04 pm
I teach Special Education at a York Region Highschool. We are studying a book about homelessness with our grade 10s. The students are interested in helping out the community. We would like them to have a food drive and make a donation to an organization in the Richmond Hill Area. Do you have any suggestions for this? Please let us know how we can help.
lindzi / July 31, 2012 at 10:01 am
hi i d love to volunteer in all areas please i ve asst teached for 12 yrs and worked with the mentally changelled and also nursing homes so if anything comes available please call me asap
Jack / August 3, 2012 at 07:12 pm
Where do you have soup kitchens around Finch and Sheppard avenues?
Maria D / October 9, 2012 at 07:40 pm
Hi, I want to help out in this world!!!!!!!
Zaneta replying to a comment from Moi / October 25, 2012 at 10:14 am
My area is main- danforth
Diand / December 1, 2012 at 01:38 pm
So many want to help. That is very good to see. For now I will tithe ten percent of my income not much but easier than hands on help.
When I see two pan handlers my area I am torn. Do I give or call in when it is below zero? If it were me I'd want to be left alone but I know intervention can turn someone's life around. One homeless person wants to be left alone, the other is actively soliciting and bragging about his big income. I am an antique person on my way to work part time which I love better than any job I have had prior. It is never too late to find peace and happiness and simplicity.
Super Guy / April 30, 2013 at 08:44 am
Hello people! Good Work!
Larson Heinonen / October 15, 2013 at 08:51 am
user-pic I recently wrote this article about homelessness originally for my Blog and was then advised to share it.
George / January 8, 2014 at 10:16 am
I just started volunteering for a charity that serves meals to "the poor". That is an enormously broad category. What I see is the disabled poor, the mentally ill poor, the addicted poor, the intellectually disabled poor. They are all on social assistance, but of course that isn't enough, combined with their disabilities, to get them out of poverty. Their chances of ever getting out of their various traps seem slim to none. Are these groups destined to be permanent in our society? It seems that way.
Dhartishree / February 12, 2014 at 03:51 pm
God bless our food banks !

Please let me know if there is any around mossbank and lawrence !

Thank you

Donnie / February 20, 2014 at 10:09 pm
If possible it would be great to have an update on this list. It's a very important topic and since this post is from 2009, an update might help some thinking about supporting. Great resource here, love to see it renewed. Thanks!
Mario / September 6, 2014 at 09:04 am
Great comments, here's my view. These places are supposed to be for "Homeless" not people who can cook in their home. Rice & pasta can be made for pennies a dish. We all know that most homeless people are that way due to alcohol & drug addictions. We need to show them how to live without the crutches they choose to use. ( speaking as a god loving working man who was a fierce crack addict many yrs ago)
Jagger / November 2, 2014 at 11:07 pm
Pilot project called "Feed Families"... Public commercial freezers stocked with nutritionally balanced meals, 7 days a week. Each freezer will hold for 8 families provided by my catering company on a daily routine. I am looking for proprietors that can hold my freezers on their property and allow the families that have been qualified to access them. Each freezer will have E-locks on them and inside will have locked compartments for each family. We must know families that need help..Why should the elderly to the young go hungry? Think of the possibilities.. I will start this project but~ Help is needed as this grows.......Looking for locations, freezers, locks, food, advice and Help! Join me in my vision to Feed Families...
Klavs / November 10, 2014 at 11:21 am
I'm willing to volunteer. Please e-mail me as soon as possible. Thank you
Linda / June 9, 2015 at 01:33 pm

My name is Linda and I work with Global Aerospace underwriter management, our corporate company is looking to volunteer our services to our local communities and surroundings.

Please let me know how we can help with our services we are a company of about 30 employees.
Hope to hear from you soon.


Linda Lorefice
Steve White replying to a comment from Maria D / October 12, 2015 at 12:42 am

Maria: Alan Gardens Food Bank, at St. Luke's — huge stone church at the southeast corner of Carlton & Sherbourne. Come in Thursday or Friday, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. Ask for the supervisor, or use my name, say you want to volunteer. It's a good bunch of people, rewarding work.

ScarbroSK / October 18, 2015 at 09:22 am
5n2 Soup Kitchens in Scarborough runs Mon-Fri serving close to 700 free soups and meals everyday from 6 locations. Check them out at
Students, seniors and others can volunteer at their kitchen on Markahm Road.
Micheline / October 18, 2015 at 04:29 pm
Good afternoon, We ( my husband and I and sometime our 14 year old granddaughter) are just wondering if you need help in the Scarborough soup Kitchen because right now we are volunteering in Oshawa 1 Sunday a month and we are looking to find something closer to home.
Please contact us to provide information on tyour need and location as soon as possible, looking forward to hear from you.

Have a wonderful day!!
Micheline Desjardins
ScarbroSK / October 20, 2015 at 06:22 pm
Micheline: could you please email us at Sure, you are welcome to visit our kitchen at 1250 Markham road Mon-Fri but pl contact by email to confirm timings.
ScarbroSK / October 20, 2015 at 10:43 pm
Klavs& Linda: pl look up for Soup Kitchen volunteer opportunities Mon-Fri in Scarborough.
ScarbroSK replying to a comment from Linda / October 20, 2015 at 10:49 pm
Linda, Pl look up for corporate volunteer opportunities.
ScarbroSK replying to a comment from Micheline / October 20, 2015 at 10:50 pm
Micheline: could you please email us at Sure, you are welcome to visit the kitchen at 1250 Markham road Mon-Fri but pl contact by email to confirm timings.
ScarbroSK replying to a comment from Dhartishree / October 20, 2015 at 10:53 pm
There's 2 food banks: 4100 Lawrence ave east open wed/thu/fri and at 3817 Lawrence ave east open Wednesday.
Other Cities: Montreal