Apartment Tenants Are Targeted In Food Drive

On Tuesday, February 17 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., apartment tenants will hear the creak of shopping carts being wheeled around their floors in buildings across Toronto.

Volunteers pushing the carts will be knocking on every door canvassing tenants to donate non-perishable foods to charity.

The 2004 Ontario Wide Door-to-Door Food Drive is being organized by the Fair Rental Policy Organization (FRPO), which represents more than 800 rental housing owners and managers around Ontario, 300 of them in the GTA.

This is the second time that FRPO has held their food drive, possibly the largest in Canada, says Utilia Amaral, director of communications with FRPO (www.frpo.org).

Bonnie Hoy, a rental consultant for major landlords and president of Bonnie Hoy & Associates, first organized the event in October 2002.  Hoy’s daughter Beverlee, 11, had suggested that her mother use her industry contacts to organize a province-wide canvas of rental buildings for charity.  Hoy contacted rental owners and managers and spoke with organizations to drum up support.

During the Dec. 2002 drive, 140,000 lbs. of non-perishable food were collected in the GTA, which was donated to The North York Harvest Food Bank and local Salvation Army centers.

At last count, 430 buildings are participating in the 2004 drive, although Hoy is confident that she’ll reach her goal of 500.  A few condo buildings will also be joining in this year, she says.

Organizers hope to amass between 300,000 to 500,000 lbs. of food.  Any sort of non-perishable goods is needed, including canned goods and flour, according to Amaral.  “Food for infants and toddlers has been stressed to me,” she says.

In addition to the GTA and suburbs, FRPO will concurrently conduct its Door-to-Door Food Drive around Ontario on Tuesday, including Guelph and Hamilton.

All donated food from the GTA will be directed to the North York Food Harvest and to the Daily Bread Food Bank.  Outside the GTA, donations are targeted to local food bank charities.  All goods collected in the community stay in the community.

About 10,000 volunteers, including tenants as well as rental housing owners, managers and suppliers, will help canvas on February 17.  “It’s been an enormous undertaking,” says Amaral, who adds that co-ordinating the event began in early November.

Information flyers are being distributed to tenants in each unit in the participating buildings and posted on bulletin boards.  “If they’re not home during the drive, they can leave us a bag of food,” she says.

Non-perishable items will be placed in multiple bins in apartment lobbies for collection in a day or two.  Donations will be driven to food banks in large trucks from the Home Depot, Grocery Gateway and the Toronto  Star.

“It’s only three hours of your time,” says hoy about volunteering for the 2004 Ontario Wide Door-to-Door Food Drive.