Food Knows No Borders

 


What made Food Knows No Borders so unique?

The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted undocumented communities disproportionally. In response, the community organization 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, and it was financed by a successful crowdfunding campaign and a grant from Freedonia. 

A much larger grant from the Canadian Red Cross vastly increased the scope of the project, and we were serving close to 100 families every week, until the project ended on 19 February 2021.

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.
 
“I don't believe in charity. I believe in solidarity. Charity is so vertical. It goes from the top to the bottom. Solidarity is horizontal. It respects the other person. I have a lot to learn from other people.” Eduardo Galeano
 
What we did:

We ordered food from preferably local sources like FoodShare, buying individual additions where 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.
 

"Not only have you kept us fed, you've listened to us, you disproved the notion of "beggars can't be choosers". You've treated us with dignity and respect, and above all, you and your team have simply been kind."

Community Member

"You have helped me do one of the absolute most important things for me...that is to feed my children. It is so hard normally and I've always struggled, but in this time of uncertainty with covid you have given me the confidence to know that my son will have diapers and my daughter will have milk in her tummy. They wont be hungry. You help to fill the gap in my pantry and fridge and I am grateful! The extra surprise of a cake on my birthday made a world of difference!"

- Community Member

"Through quarantine two of us lost our job and with paying rent and the expenses this program has been a great help. It has reignited my love of cooking again, with all of the fresh produce, and given me something to look forward to during quarantine."

- Community Member