TORONTO (Friday, July 24, 2020) – MLSE’s community meal donation program, Bringing Toronto Back To Its Feet, reached its goal of producing 500,000 meals and announced the program will transition to a new phase to continue support of Second Harvest with meal production at Scotiabank Arena and BMO Field being completed. Both venues will play roles in the city’s hosting of the NHL 2020 Eastern Conference Playoffs.
Meals will continue to be distributed to community agencies through to the end of the month, and in addition, the program will donate 15,000 pounds of food and meal preparation resources as MLSE continues its long-standing support of Second Harvest and its community food recovery programs.
“These past three months have demonstrated what is possible when we work together and put community first,” said Larry Tanenbaum, Chairman of MLSE. “On behalf of MLSE, we want to thank our partners for their generous donations and our dedicated employees and volunteers who have worked every day since the beginning to ensure we reached our goal and helped Toronto recover from this difficult period. While we transition to a new way of delivering support, assisting those who help keep our community safe will always remain a top priority for MLSE.”
Bringing Toronto Back To Its Feet was designed to thank and support the city’s frontline healthcare workers, their families, and local community agencies. Founding partners, Scotiabank, Tangerine Bank, Bell Canada and Rogers Communications alongside lead partner, BMO, and additional supporting partners, have donated resources, products, volunteers as well as financial contributions to ensure the program reached its meal donation goal. Scotiabank Arena and BMO Field were both transformed into Toronto’s largest kitchens to produce and assemble as many as 13,000 meals per day. Another 23,500 meals were made and distributed through the kitchen facilities at Scotia Plaza since the program started.
“MLSE prides itself on its role inspiring and supporting our community, in good times, but more importantly during challenging times,” said Michael Friisdahl, President and CEO of MLSE. “This period has been one of the most difficult periods we have faced as a community and we are grateful to our ownership, partners, employees and volunteers who so eagerly supported this program to assist our frontline healthcare workers, their families and our city’s most vulnerable. We recognize that there is still much work to do, and while our venues serve an important role over the next two months in bringing hockey back to millions of fans, our long-standing support of community agencies through Second Harvest will ensure this important work continues.”
Since the beginning of the program in April, the program provided 25,000 meals per week to over 75 community agencies, including local shelters, and 100,000 meals to frontline health care workers and their families at 25 hospitals and healthcare facilities in the Greater Toronto Area. During that period 70,000 pounds of chicken provided by Maple Lodge Farms, 45,000 pounds of pasta and canned goods from Unico/Primo, 55,000 pounds in potatoes from McCain and 15,000 pounds of rice from MARS were used to prepare the meals. Sysco has logged more than 400 hours and 10,000 kilometres in the process of delivering the meals throughout the city.
“No one could have anticipated that the first two years of our partnership would include Canada’s first NBA Championship title, and the transformation of Scotiabank Arena into an enormous kitchen used to prepare meals for health workers and agencies helping those most in need during Covid-19,” said Brian Porter, President and CEO of Scotiabank. “Scotiabankers are proud of our long history of giving back to the communities in which we live and work – the MLSE meal program is another part of that legacy.”
“We are proud of this critical program and the opportunity we’ve had to support frontline health care workers and the city’s most vulnerable,” said Cameron Fowler, Chief Strategy and Operations Officer, BMO Financial Group. “As a bank we are committed to helping communities during this challenging time and are pleased to work with partners like MLSE to do all that we can to bring Toronto back to its feet.”
In addition to the contribution of food resources to Second Harvest, MLSE’s chefs are consulting with the organization to support the safe start up of their own commissary kitchens to produce meals moving forward so that Second Harvest can continue to operate its core business of preparing meals for its partner agencies, but with a new degree of health and safety considerations.
Second Harvest, the largest food rescue organization in Canada, along with a network of local suppliers and sponsors, supplied fresh ingredients daily to the MLSE team. The chefs then turned those food supplies, along with other food purchased or donated to the program, into fresh, nutritious, ready-to-heat single-serving or family meals suitable for a variety of dietary needs.
"These past months have been even more challenging for the city’s most vulnerable and for the agencies providing vital food services on limited resources,” said Lori Nikkel, CEO of Second Harvest. “That’s why the incredible, positive impact of the half a million meals that MLSE and its partners generously provided cannot be overstated. We are grateful for the immeasurable support provided, and their continued assistance, as we navigate the new reality created by COVID-19.”
Since the program’s inception, MLSE has received a variety of donations from its community of partners including support with logistics, food delivery, food or financial donations, and assistance from volunteers. MLSE is grateful to all the founding and lead partners as well as a number of other supporting partners for their involvement including Pinnacle Catering, Unico/Primo, Dairy Farmers of Ontario, Maple Lodge Farms and Weston Foods. The program’s volunteers also received donations to fuel them throughout their workday from Coca-Cola, Tim Horton’s, Lindt, Fritos Lay, Circle K, Red Bull and Fisherman’s Friend.
Charzie Abendanio, MLSE – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: (416) 970-4613
Erin Truax, Scotiabank/Tangerine Bank – Email: email@example.com Tel: (416) 578-9659
Sónia Brum, BMO – Email: Sonia.Brum@bmo.com Tel: (647) 208-8314
Lori Nikkel, Second Harvest – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: (647) 382-0159