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Toronto man launching all-vegetarian food bank

Mathew Noble is planning to bring something fresh to the city — a food bank that’s 100 per cent vegetarian.

That’s right. All vegetarian, all the time with a healthy supply of vegan-friendly food, too.

And, Noble said, 50 per cent of the offerings will be fresh, a goal existing food banks say they struggle to meet.

“I don’t want to give people any unhealthy food. I want to give them something I can eat,” said Noble, who’s a vegan.

The Toronto Vegetarian Food Bank is set to launch on Jan. 31 in a space at the Yonge Street Mission.

At the Daily Bread food bank, for example, about 40 per cent of food distributed this year has been fresh, which includes things like fresh meat and dairy.

“I think that 50 per cent fresh vegetables at a food bank is a great goal, and I hope they reach it,” said Sarah Anderson, senior manager of communications at Daily Bread.

Some people who depend on food banks and are vegetarians have resorted to eating meat because they have no other choice, Noble said.

“That is very sad because fresh vegetarian food is so scarce at food banks,” he said, adding that people go vegetarian or vegan either for their health, because they're against animal cruelty or to opt out of extreme environmental damage caused by the large-scale farming of livestock.

Noble’s plan is to start small, offering services one or two days a month. He plans to lean on sponsors and community partnerships to keep the fresh produce flowing.

“We are very excited because it will offer the alternative for people and ensure some kind of equity across the board,” Yonge Street Mission spokeswoman Sally Ritchie said. “Fresh items are the most difficult to store and keep and transport.”

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