June 27 is Multiculturalism Day! Since its inception in 2002, Multiculturalism Day has been an opportunity to appreciate both our own cultural traditions and those of our friends, neighbours, and people all across Canada.
Here at Leftovers, we’re fortunate enough to work with service agencies and food donors who support many different cultures and ethnicities. A few of our partners took a few minutes to tell us a bit about their work and the people they support.
Thank you to Islamic Family & Social Services Association, Migrante Alberta, and the Italian Centre Shop for answering our questions, and for the many contributions they make to our communities!
Tell us about your business!
Italian Centre Shop: Italian Centre Shop is a family owned grocery store with 3 locations in Edmonton, 1 in Sherwood Park and another in Calgary.
What inspired you to partner up with Leftovers?
Italian Centre Shop: Your Edmonton City Coordinator reached out to us and it seemed like a great way to repurpose food we could no longer sell.
What kinds of food do you donate? What considerations go into what kinds of food you can donate?
Italian Centre Shop: Day-old bread, panini, pastries, compromised produce; basically food which we can’t sell but is still very much edible.
What has your experience been like partnering with Leftovers and working with volunteers?
Italian Centre Shop: It’s been great, the volunteers are fantastic and have come to know some of our staff!
How do you reduce food waste?
Italian Centre Shop: If this food wasn’t donated and picked up by the great volunteers, it would wind up in the trash bin, and this program helps a lot with that.
What do you hope to see your business accomplish in the future as a food donor?
Italian Centre Shop: As a food donor, we would like to continue working with Leftovers to further reduce our waste generation and support our community through our donations.
To learn more about Italian Centre Shop, please head to italiancentre.ca
Tell us about your Service Agency!
Migrante Alberta: Migrante is a non-profit advocacy and self-help organization. In Alberta, we address the immediate issues facing migrants and our compatriots. We provide assistance through referrals, advocate and campaign on migrants’ issues. We work closely with labour unions and community-based organizations. We bring public attention to the plight of migrants and precarious workers through different avenues with the aim of getting broad public support and pro-migrant public awareness that has a vision for change. We continue to build relationships and broad network of advocates to promote strong support for all migrant workers.
Our allies include labour unions, grassroots migrant organizations, women’s organizations and workers’ organizations. We also conduct dialogue and seek audience with concerned government agencies (both in Canada and in the Philippines) to discuss migrant policies and legislations.
IslamicFamily: IslamicFamily (IF) provides a holistic approach to community well-being that is culturally and spiritually sensitive. IF serves the Edmonton community through a halal food bank, family violence, mental health and drug addictions counseling, prison chaplaincy, outreach support, a youth program, refugee support and much more.
How does your service agency use Leftovers’ food donations?
Migrante Alberta: Since Migrante Alberta serves mostly marginalized temporary foreign workers, undocumented migrants and new immigrants who are still struggling to settle in Alberta, our agency sees the need to help in any way to mitigate food insecurity either through providing leftover food or donations that can still be consumed safely by community members.
As an organization, Migrante recognized that this is not a long-term and permanent solution as people should have access to liveable wage as well as basic social benefits that could provide nutritious food to each home.
IslamicFamily: IF distributes the donations to the clients we support. We are currently serving over 5000 people in the city of Edmonton.
What are some challenges that you face when working with your clients?
Migrante Alberta: There’s a myriad of challenges that we face when working with our clients but the most common issues are their vulnerable immigration status, lack of services available to them, low economic condition, family conflicts, among others.
IslamicFamily: Our biggest challenge is language. Most of our clients are refugees or newcomers with little to no English skills. This also prevents them from procuring employment until they go through the Linc classes. We also serve a clientele whom deal with discriminatory practices pertaining to housing and employment.
What has partnering with Leftovers done for your programming?
Migrante Alberta: Our volunteers always have great pleasant experience partnering with Leftovers. We are grateful that this organization exists and for picking the right people to interact with community members.
IslamicFamily: Leftovers has enabled us to supplement our hampers with extra food we normally would not have access to.
What are some things that the average person might be unaware of when it comes to the challenges that the populations that you work with face?
Migrante Alberta: I think since we serve migrants with precarious immigration status, the general population is not aware about the severe difficulties and challenges that people with precarious immigration status face on a daily basis. They are unable to change jobs even when there is abuse, they usually are unable to make complaints even when they are victimized by a crime or bad employers, they can’t refuse unsafe work conditions, they usually don’t drive or own a car, most of their income goes to their families in their home countries and to pay debts they incurred when they came to Canada.
IslamicFamily: Our clients come from a diverse background. We serve people from over 70 countries speaking more than 140 different languages. Many of them have fled war, coming to Edmonton straight from refugee camps where they had no little to no access to education or other services. These same clients may be suffering from physical or emotional disabilities due to war injuries. Some of our clients are elderly, speak no English, and are completely isolated from the community they live in. We serve a large number of single mothers fleeing abuse with no access to transportation who need extra support.
What else can people donate to your service agency other than food?
Migrante Alberta: Clothes, office supplies, bus tickets or bus passes, gift cards.
IslamicFamily: We accept diapers, baby formula, baby food, or gift cards.
How else can people get involved with your agency?
Migrante Alberta: We need people who can volunteer to bring food or clothes or household items. We also need people who could personally support our members in filling out immigration forms or finding resources available in the community.
IslamicFamily: IF requires volunteers to deliver food hampers to the most vulnerable clients we serve. We also require volunteers to pick up donations when requested.
What do you hope to see your Agency or partnership with Leftovers accomplish in the future?
Migrante Alberta: We hope to be able to meet other organizations who have been working with Leftovers in the future.
IslamicFamily: We hope to continue the partnership so we can distribute donations to our clients.
To learn more about Migrante Alberta, please head to migrantealberta.ca
To learn more about IslamicFamily, please head to ifssa.ca
To learn more about Multiculturalism Day and multiculturalism in Canada, check out these resources: