TORONTO — A recent report by Food Banks Canada showed that the number of Canadians visiting food banks is higher than it was before the recession, but that only tells part of the story of hunger in Canada, said Ida McLaughlin, national executive direction for Mazon Canada
“Food Banks Canada only interviews and surveys food banks themselves, and that is a really small picture of what hunger is Canada is like,” she said. “Think of all the other organizations that feed the hungry that aren’t food banks.”
While the report said more than 800,000 Canadians visit food banks monthly, McLaughlin estimated the number of Canadians going hungry is more than one million.
On Nov. 19, Mazon, which gives grants to organizations that feed the hungry, will be holding its annual Kosherlicious fundraiser in Toronto, with the Montreal version, La Soiree, to take place on Nov. 25.
The events are focused on kosher food, and although there are some differences in the entertainment – Toronto will feature musicians, including local a cappella group Varsity Jews, while Montreal showcases two Cirque du Soleil-esque performers – both will be exciting and enjoyable evenings, McLaughlin said.
Kosherlicious and La Soiree are Mazon’s most important events of the year. McLaughlin said they bring in a huge portion of the funds Mazon is able to allocate to organizations helping the hungry around the country.
Last year’s fundraisers raised more than $325,000 combined, but it’s not enough, McLaughlin said. Although Mazon was able to allocate grants to around 110 organizations last year, it had to turn down 42 applicants.
McLaughlin said she’s proud of the fact that although Mazon fundraises mostly in the Jewish communities, it donates its money on a non-denominational basis.
“Everyone who comes to us is considered for a grant,” she said. “We support small organizations that are trying to make a difference, like Out of the Cold programs or shelters that have women who are running from abuse.”
It’s particularly important to help people access fresh foods, like produce. A carton of eggs, for example, is often considered a luxury many cannot afford.
“You think about how far an egg can go with a family versus a box of cereal or a bag of rice, so most people would choose the cereal or rice,” McLaughlin said.
This year, Mazon is hoping to raise $170,000 at each city’s event, for a total of $340,000.
For tickets to either event, visit mazoncanada.ca.