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Toronto getting its first vegetarian food bank

All is set for Toronto to have its first exclusively vegetarian food bank.

After months of planning, consulting and fetching for funds, Mathew Noble and his team are in the final stages of setting up shop and start serving veggie and vegan friendly food at the Yonge Street Mission.

Saturday is the grand opening day. Noble will spend the morning at the Ontario Food Terminal Board, buying fresh vegetarian groceries. He already has a good stock of non-perishable items such as tofu, dry lentils, beans, brown rice, bread, spaghettis and soy milk among others.

Toronto Vegetarian Food Bank aims to give an alternative to many food bank users who, for a variety of reasons, chose to go vegetarian. His hope, he said, is to provide food that is at least 50 per cent fresh.

“We will serve people who are already vegetarian or vegan or those who are actively trying to transition,” he said.

There will be enough food to serve between 50 and 75 people the first day, Noble said, adding it’s hard to predict how many people will actually show up. The plan is to start offering food on the last Saturday of every month, then make adjustments according to the need, he said.

“If we get to a point where we can do twice a month, that would be great,” he said.

Noble, a vegan, built his idea from the now defunct Ontario Vegetarian Food Bank. He heard they were planning to open a food bank in downtown Toronto and thought he would volunteer with them. But the idea never came to be, and the project has since closed.

But that wasn’t going to stop him. Last November he launched an indiegogo campaign that has raised over $5,000. He also got a financial boost from Rawcology, a project that offers culinary classes about raw and vegan kitchen.

About 15 people have contacted him, volunteering to help out on the opening day. And, whatever happens Saturday, the idea will continue on.

“We will continue to look for sponsorship and fundraising events to expand the project,” he said.

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