Food is laid out for the Super Bowl community dinner for homeless men in Toronto, Feb 12, 2023.

Champions abound at Super Bowl dinner

  • February 14, 2023

Super Bowl LVII was not short of awe-inspiring moments. 

Kansas City Chiefs kick returner Kadarius Toney somehow finessed his way around a surrounding wall of charging Philadelphia Eagles defenders to record a punt return of 65 yards, the longest in Super Bowl history. 

Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts engraved his name in the history books with his third rushing touchdown to tie the clash 35-35 with 5:15 remaining in the fourth quarter. 

And Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker delivered excellence under fire with his dramatic 27-yard field goal in the final few seconds to lift his team to its second championship in four years. 

But off the field, and thousands of kilometres away, there were some awe-inspiring moments surrounding the game as well.

Thanks to a partnership between Good Shepherd Centre and Rabba Fine Foods, a Super Bowl community dinner was hosted for the seventh straight year for over 100 homeless men supported by Good Shepherd in Toronto. Gourmet pizza, cabbage rolls, chicken strips, perogies, hamburgers, beverages and desserts were on the menu. 

Beyond the warm food to enjoy the gridiron action, Rabba donated care packages of hygiene products and food items that will support Good Shepherd, perennially Toronto’s largest meal program, in the weeks ahead. 

“We are so thankful to our partners for another year of incredible donations to this shelter that does invaluable work all year long,” said Rima Rabba, head of Rabba Roots, the company’s community giving program, in a release for the event. “We are grateful to be able to support these men and the team at the Good Shepherd with a little bit of fun and food to go with the big game.”

Kirk McMahon, senior manager of shelter, hospitality and housing support services, expressed gratitude for Rabba Roots steadfast support over the past seven years.

“Thanks to the generosity of Rabba Roots, our guests get to enjoy game day in the spirit of community and wrapped in the warmth of good food. It is a much-anticipated event here at Good Shepherd and the donation will help us for days to come during this long, cold month of February,” said McMahon.

The Good Shepherd served 261,953 meals, sheltered 472 guests and secured lodging for 61 homeless men plus 13 homeless veterans in 2022, said McMahon. He projects the 2023 economic climate will place greater challenges on the non-profit. The changes to the housing landscape over the past several years illustrates the enhanced difficulties faced by Good Shepherd and other centres. 

“If you look at 2019, there are about 2,500 distinct individuals that come into the shelter each year. About 500 of those distinct individuals see a housing worker in the housing department (and) 250 of those people get housing every single year, which means 20-25 people a month gets housed. It takes about 90 days to house those people,” he said.

“Now here we are in the pandemic (era), and 50 per cent of the people who come to see us are on (Ontario Works). They get $735 a month maximum. That’s for everything — food, clothing, cigarettes and rent. The average rent of a room in the basement by the furnace is $800. Nobody on OW can be housed because they don’t have enough money to pay the rent. Nobody on the (Ontario Disability Support Program) can be housed because they barely have enough money to pay the rent.”

Meanwhile, McMahon said “an ever-increasing number of people are coming by the shelter 24-7 to ask for food, extra gloves, toiletries and water. There are thousands of people in a week or month that get those items through reception.”

The number of food boxes delivered to members of the Good Shepherd community is also spiking. Instead of requesting a food box every other month, clients are asking for two boxes in a two-week interval. 

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