This is an archive of a previous project from 2021.
What made Food Knows No Borders so unique?
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted undocumented communities disproportionately. In response, Vivimos Juntxs, Comemos Juntxs (VJCJ) teamed up with the Toronto Queer Film Festival (TQFF) to start a grassroots campaign to get food to 50 families by the end of August 2020. We called the project Food Knows No Borders (FKNB), and it was financed by a successful crowdfunding campaign and a grant from Freedonia.
Fortunately, two rounds of funding from the Canadian Red Cross (CRC) allowed us to expand the scope of our work and serve close to 100 households weekly with fresh food, pantry staples and other needs like diapers and sanitary products. Overall, we managed to deliver over 1500 food boxes to families, including undocumented, Indigenous, and queer/trans/2 Spirit people, Deaf and disabled migrants, from all around the GTA.
FKNB was organized by a team of migrants, most with past or current experiences of being undocumented, and it is this lived experience which guided us. We work in a spirit of solidarity, and our goal is to not just provide food but also to build long-lasting relationships and a sense of community power.
What we did:
We ordered food from preferably local sources like FoodShare, buying individual additions when requested. We packed customized packages for each family and delivered them weekly, often with the help of trusted volunteers from the community. We had 11 delivery routes serving close to 100 families in and around Toronto every week: from Scarborough to Markham, from Brampton and Etobicoke to East and North York and downtown Toronto. We provided healthy, nutritious food, and we made adjustments for cultural or health related changes, and tried to add little loving touches. Every week, different pantry staples, diapers, and female sanitary products were added to the fresh produce. We did feedback surveys and kept adjusting to the needs of our communities. Our work went beyond food delivery: Recipients reached out for advice about immigration issues, access to health care or education, and some became part of the project by volunteering. We were building a community.