When the going gets tough it seems that the Slaight Family Foundation is there to help.
The philanthropic fund, created by the Toronto-based broadcast media family, announced Tuesday that it is donating $3 million to four food banks as the need grows for supplementary help during the COVID-19 crisis.
Gary Slaight, president and CEO of The Slaight Family Foundation, said in a press statement that these four orgs were selected because they “are providing the basic necessities of life to our most vulnerable populations during this terrible COVID-19 pandemic."
The Foundation has previously donated to food rescue Second Harvest and child-focused Breakfast Clubs of Canada, while Food Banks of Canada and Daily Bread Food Bank are new recipients of the family's generosity.
According to HungerCount 2019, an annual report released by Food Banks Canada that analyzes data from thousands of food banks across the country, Canadians already made more than one million visits to food banks in the months leading up to today’s pandemic-crisis.
“I am not at all surprised by their willingness to show up during such a challenging time,” said Breakfast Club of Canada president-founder Daniel Germain in a statement. ”The Foundation has always risen up to the occasion and this time is no different. Their values, courage and generosity are truly remarkable.
“Breakfast Club of Canada, alongside the other organizations that the Slaight Family Foundation is helping, will make sure to reach as many Canadian children and their families during this crisis as possible. More importantly, to help take the burden and insecurity off their shoulders and to provide hope and smiles.”
“As we work together in this crisis to make sure every Canadian has access to the food they need to stay healthy, we thank the Slaight Family Foundation for their incredible support,” added Second Harvest CEO Lori Nikkel in her own statement. “This is an impossible task to do alone, and we are proud to be working with the Foundation and our partners to make sure Canadians everywhere have access to fresh, nutritious food.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has not only led to job loss and business closures but school shutdowns, leaving thousands of children without access to much-needed breakfast and lunch programs. The health crisis has also created food access issues for the elderly, physically challenged, and the homeless.
According to stats included in the release, “Many food banks across the network only have food in stock to provide 10 to 14 days for existing food bank clients, let alone the anticipated rise in demand that will result from the economic impact of the COVID-19 for months to come,” adding that even prior to COVID-19, according to Food Banks Canada’s HungerCount 2019 report — an analysis of thousands of Canadian food banks — more than 1 million Canadians utilized food banks every month.
“This incredible gift will go directly to feeding those hardest hit by this pandemic,” said Food Banks Canada CEO Chris Hatch in a statement. “Words will not express our deep gratitude, but we can give our heartfelt thanks on behalf of people across every coast in Canada struggling with food insecurity. Particularly in these uncertain times, when the need is likely to grow to levels we have never seen before, it’s important now more than ever that Canadians rally to support their neighbours in need.”
Daily Bread Food Bank CEO Neil Hetherington would like to see others follow suit.
“The need has never been greater across the country,” said Hetherington in a statement. “For decades the Slaight family name has been synonymous with philanthropic endeavours that have made the lives of hundreds of thousands of Canadians better. We at Daily Bread Food Bank are hopeful that many others across the country will follow the Slaight lead so the sting of poverty and hunger can be dulled.”
Since its launch in 2008 by patriarch John Allan Slaight, following the sale of Standard Broadcasting, the Foundation has supported more than 73 projects and donated tens of millions to charitable initiatives in the areas of healthcare, at-risk youth, international development, social services and culture.
Among the recent acts of financial generosity:
Several weeks ago, the Foundation granted $250,000 to the charitable music industry Unison Benevolent Fund that is designed to help constituents in times of crisis.
To mark International Women’s Day on March 8, the Foundation donated $15 million among 15 non-profit organizations — including the Canadian Red Cross, Save The Children, World Vision, UNICEF Canada, Crossroads International – to better provide women and girls’ access to healthcare, education and legal support.
Last year, the Foundation donated $30 million to to 13 Toronto hospitals and four national health organizations as part of an initiative to improve community support and health-care access for Canada’s senior population.