COMMUNITY ACTION AND SERVICE
This award recognizes those who set up and/or ran food banks, shelters, masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) distribution in the Scarborough community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
RECIPIENT OF THE COMMUNITY ACTION AND SERVICE HERO AWARD
Committed to ensuring that no members of her community ever have to go hungry, Seema David set up 5n2 Kitchens in 2013. During COVID-19, the food bank and kitchen began operating 7 days a week to meet the increased demand for food in marginalized communities. Under Seema’s leadership, the organization expanded their services to serving 3500 meals every week to families who are struggling to afford food, while also meeting the cultural and dietary needs of the community.
Can you tell us about yourself (and/or) your organization?My family and I immigrated to Canada in the summer of 2007, and needless to say we faced several challenges over the next 5 years with getting jobs and settling into our new domicile. 5n2 Soup Kitchens was birthed in the midst of these challenging times with a vision to make a meal available to those who needed it in my community.
Did you have a source of inspiration or motivation that fueled you to take such remarkable actions to support and serve the Scarborough community during COVID-19?The seed for this vision I believe was planted in my heart by God, and I say this because I hadn’t visited another soup kitchen anywhere and this is not my area of work by any stretch of the imagination. While working downtown at GBC I saw the much visible homelessness and poverty on my walk from Union station to 200 King Street east, and while we were raising tens of thousands of dollars for United Way, I began to research what supports were being channelled to East Scarborough where I commuted from. This in turn gave me a further impetus to do something to help those in need in my community.
What does winning this award mean to you?To me personally, it speaks more to the tireless work of our kitchen, program and delivery teams who have worked tirelessly especially since March 2020 seven days each week to ensure our support to the urgent needs in our communities.
What was a positive moment or meaningful memory from this past year that stands out to you?When the Covid-19 first came into Toronto, most of our partnerships shut down food services and we had to quickly pivot to an online sign up to meal and grocery delivery requests: at this point a past senior volunteer along with her retired sister who could not even climb the steps into our facility offered to drive ‘any distance’ to help deliver meals and groceries. This blew me away, as why would seniors, and with added physical challenges do this with much risk to themselves. Also, when most of our volunteers stepped off with the fear factor at a high, the very few who took a risk coming out to help multiple days was amazing.
If you could describe Scarborough in one word, what would it be?"Diversity
What does being part of the Scarborough community mean to you?It pictures a caring and generous community.