On December 18, Salvation Army representatives met in a virtual roundtable with key federal government ministers together with other agencies—including Food Banks Canada, Breakfast Clubs of Canada and Second Harvest—that are addressing food insecurity across Canada. The Hon. Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, thanked The Salvation Army’s officers, volunteers and supporters for their extraordinary efforts during the pandemic to support Canada’s most vulnerable citizens. “Thank you to all volunteers,” said Minister Bibeau. “Your tireless work and dedication help Canadians put food on their tables.”
Also present for the meeting were the Hon. Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services, and the Hon. Daniel Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs. Minister Vandal also expressed his appreciation to The Salvation Army: “We owe a debt of gratitude to everyone involved. You are changing lives and helping to keep our communities strong.”
It was announced on the call that The Salvation Army will receive an additional $8.85 million in funding for COVID-19 relief in Canada. Earlier in the year, the federal government, through Agriculture and Agri-Foods Canada, contributed $11.25 million to the Army to provide meals and food to hungry Canadians during the pandemic.
To date, The Salvation Army has used these funds to support Canadians in the following ways:
- 12,277,156 pounds of food distributed
- $709,715 distributed in gift cards
- 1,168,019 meals served
- 285,082 households served
- 30,031 new households served
The Salvation Army was represented on the call by Glenn van Gulik, divisional secretary for public relations, Ont. Div. In his remarks, van Gulik noted: “The Salvation Army has been carefully monitoring and responding to the growing needs. As we look across the country, The Salvation Army has experienced an up to five times increase in some communities of those coming to us for help, and in far too many cases these are individuals and families seeking support for the very first time.
“With the incredible financial support provided by the federal government, The Salvation Army has been addressing food insecurity and carefully tracking how every dollar of these funds has been used to make a difference in the lives of Canadians.”
Also participating in the call were Lt-Colonel John Murray, communications secretary, Dani Shaw, director of public affairs, Major Glenda Davis, social mission secretary, Alice Johansson, manager for volunteer services, and Cadet Jason Brinson, executive director, Northwest Territories Resource Centre, Yellowknife.
In response to the Government of Canada’s support, Commissioner Floyd Tidd, territorial commander, sent the following letter of thanks to Minister Bibeau.
The Salvation Army
Canada and Bermuda Territory
Office of the Territorial Commander
December 18, 2020
The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
Dear Minister Bibeau,
As 2020 draws to a close, I am writing to thank you and your government for your ongoing, generous support of our organization and the people we serve. We are honoured and privileged to be able to work with you and other national organizations to support Canadians through this most unusual year, and we are grateful for your confidence and trust in us.
We were grateful for the opportunity to participate in the Ministerial Roundtable and announcement earlier today and would like to express our sincere thanks and appreciation for additional financial support for the upcoming year.
2020 has been a difficult year for many, and we have seen both significant growth in the demand for our support and services and incredible dedication and ingenuity as our frontline staff adapted to meet the needs of people in their communities. With the support of the Government of Canada, our community and family services staff and volunteers supported over 280,000 households this year, providing food boxes and cooked meals to seniors, single parents and low-income families, newcomers to Canada, as well as to indigenous households in both urban and rural communities. In addition, our emergency shelter and outreach staff have worked hard to provide healthy, nutritious meals to some of the most vulnerable members of our communities.
We truly could not have done this without you and your government’s support.
In closing, allow me to express, once again, my deep gratitude for your support. We wish you every blessing throughout this holiday season.
Commissioner Floyd J. Tidd
The Salvation Army Canada and Bermuda Territory
The Salvation Army
Canada and Bermuda Territory
Office of the Territorial Commander
cc: The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P., Prime Minister of Canada
Glenn van Gulik’s full statement to government:
Good morning. My name is Glenn van Gulik and I come to you from Ottawa, built on the un-ceded Algonquin Anishinaabe territory.
It is my privilege to be with you this morning to share about the work of The Salvation Army as we address food insecurity, representing our officers, staff and volunteers who, with incredible dedication and ingenuity, adapted to meet the needs of Canadians in over 400 communities … “our neighbours” … families and individuals, children and seniors who are experiencing food insecurity right across our country.
It is also my privilege to say thank you to Minister Bibeau and to the federal government for the unprecedented financial support and trust in The Salvation Army and other partners as we seek to work collaboratively and collectively in addressing these critical challenges facing so many.
Much like others sharing with you today, The Salvation Army has been carefully monitoring and responding to the growing needs. As we look across the country, The Salvation Army has experienced an up to five times increase in some communities of those coming to us for help, and in far too many cases these are individuals and families seeking support for the very first time.
In fact, not since the Second World War has The Salvation Army in Canada experienced such a dramatic increase in the number of people seeking assistance.
But, with the incredible financial support provided by the federal government, The Salvation Army has been addressing food insecurity and carefully tracking how every dollar of these funds has been used to make a difference in the lives of Canadians.
To give you an idea:
- Over 12 million pounds of food has been distributed in over 400 communities across Canada.
- Over $709,000 has been distributed in grocery gift cards to increase accessibility and provide healthy food choices for individuals and families.
- Over 1.16 million meals have been served, whether through our Salvation Army mobile canteens in various communities or through community meal programs.
- In total, we have served 285,082 households, and of those, 30,031 are new households coming to us for the first time ever.
To give you some examples of how we have served Canadians, in the early months of the pandemic, The Salvation Army in Ottawa was one of the first to partner with the Ottawa Food Bank in facilitating home deliveries of food hampers to those who were struggling or afraid to leave their homes and access local food banks or programs. Our Salvation Army officers, Captains Jeff Arkell and Major Jim Mercer, saw firsthand the anxiety, and in some cases, paralyzing fear that seniors or those with disabilities were experiencing. It was through this partnership that we were able to connect with individuals and families from right across the region to provide food and supports and reassure them that they were not alone.
In London, Ont., The Salvation Army’s London Centre of Hope made an important and pivotal change to how they were providing community meals. Using one of our Salvation Army mobile canteens in front of the building, teams of staff and volunteers provided hundreds of thousands of healthy and nutritious meals to people in the community every day for several months. This approach made it possible for us to continue serving the community while reducing the risks of COVID-19 community spread.
I also had the opportunity to receive an update from my colleagues in the Nass Valley of B.C., Pastor Damian Azak and his wife, Erica. They operate the Gitwinksihlkw Salvation Army Food Share, which provides food assistance in a culturally relevant way to all four communities in the Nisga’a Nation. The need for support has grown significantly this year, from 30 or 40 families pre-COVID, to now over 150 families each week.
Before COVID, the Food Share would open twice per week, and with the help of volunteers, people would be invited to come and take whatever they needed.
As the pandemic unfolded, people became concerned about leaving their homes to travel to the nearest city, more than 100 km away, to buy food, and the Food Share had to limit the number of volunteers and visitors. Faced with this growing concern and growing need, The Salvation Army began delivering food to people’s homes in all four communities twice per week. The support from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada came at a critical time. Food and other household items were in limited supply, and it would have been extremely challenging to purchase the food they needed without those funds.
Damian shared with us that before COVID, there were many people who didn’t know The Salvation Army had a Food Share in the community. People struggled to get by with the rising cost of hydro, one-income households, and not enough money to buy food. Since COVID, lines of communication have been opened and people understand that The Salvation Army, Damian and Erika, are there for them.
The Salvation Army continues to be present and engaged with people every day. We are humbled and blessed to serve anyone who comes to us seeking assistance. And especially now, in this Christmas season, The Salvation Army is finding new and innovative ways to share the joy, hope, peace and love of Christmas through caring for others.
Thank you for this opportunity to share with you and I affirm to you that The Salvation Army is here for Canadians, now and in the months and years ahead.
God bless you and Merry Christmas.