Knights donate $150,000 to food banks during crisis

By 
  • April 16, 2020

In an average year, the Knights Table in Brampton, Ont., serves 79,000 meals to individuals and families in need in its community.

Right now, 2020 is shaping up to be anything but average. One month into the COVID-19 pandemic, needs have skyrocketed. With many food pantries in Brampton currently closed because of the pandemic, Knights Table has kept its doors open and is taking on more clients as it serves the vulnerable in the city northwest of Toronto.

“Knights Table is still open to ensure vulnerable seniors, families and individuals receive vital food resources during this difficult time. HELP US so we can help them,” said an April 11 tweet from Knights Table.

It has transitioned temporarily to a takeout model for its breakfast, lunch and dinner programs while its dine-in facility is closed. Pre-packed hampers are available to regular service users and mobile services continue to seniors and families in high-needs neighbourhoods.

Arthur Peters’ father, Cecil, started Knights Table 27 years ago when he saw people rummaging through the garbage at a grocery store in search of food. Peters Sr. said there was no way such hunger should that be happening. His son Arthur — executive director of ShareLife at the Archdiocese of Toronto and Supreme Director for Ontario on the board of directors for the Knights of Columbus — has remembered that to this day.

The Knights recognize the increased demand on agencies like Knights Table during this uncharted time in our history where thousands have unexpectedly lost employment and find themselves suddenly on the margins of society.

The organization has provided $150,000 for food banks in four Canadian cities and put out the call to Knights to volunteer to help support food delivery. The sum is the initial phase of its support for food banks in this time of crisis, with $50,000 targeted for programs in Toronto and Montreal, and $25,000 each in Edmonton and Vancouver.

“We want our Knights to be out where they can, recognizing the social distancing and the situation, to be out volunteering and helping these organizations to serve the community where possible,” said Peters.

From March 12, the day after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, to April 8, the Knights Table meal program had increased by 207 per cent, the food hamper program was up 78 per cent and the number of clients served had risen by 57 per cent. Peters didn’t have the numbers for other programs the Knights serve — St. Francis Table, the Good Shepherd and the Yonge Street Mission — but said they’ve all seen a rise in demand.

It’s the same story across North America and the Knights are asking for help from members and the public to support these efforts through its “Leave No Neighbour Behind” initiative (donations can be made at kofc.org).

The Knights are the world’s largest Catholic fraternal organization with more than 1.5 million members in North America who in 2018 alone donated more than 76 million service hours and raised more than $185 million for charitable causes.

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