Canada’s biggest entertainers rallied together on April 26 to help raise funds for Food Banks Canada as part of Canadian broadcast event Stronger Together.
Providing food to those in need can be difficult at the best of times. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that task has become exponentially more arduous. That is why 15 broadcasting groups, led by Bell Media, CBC/Radio-Canada, Corus Entertainment, Groupe V Média, and Rogers Sports & Media, put together this special event — to ease the impacts COVID-19 has had on food banks.
The event highlighted the acute and sombre realities of the crisis: more Canadians are going hungry and strained food banks are challenged in meeting this swelling demand.
Viewers were invited to donate to support local food banks from coast to coast to coast, as the entire country is forced to tackle COVID-19. So far, $6 million has been raised for Food Banks Canada.
Many of the same broadcasters that came together for this event acted as broadcast partners for Global Citizen’s One World: Together At Home special on April 18, too.
Supporting the cause, the show was filled with familiar Canadian faces, including Justin Bieber, Mike Myers, Drake, Ryan Reynolds, and Shania Twain, along with Global Citizens Amy Poehler, Serge Ibaka, Charlotte Cardin, Alessia Cara, the Bakenaked Ladies, Céline Dion, and Michael Bublé. Filled with performances and messages of solidarity, gratitude, and hope, Stronger Together aired across hundreds of Canadian platforms.
Canadian Food Insecurity Exacerbated by the Pandemic
Canadian food insecurity prior to COVID-19 was already a significant issue; there are more than 1 million visits to food banks recorded every month. More than 1 in 8 people — or 4.4 million — in the country struggle with chronic hunger, according to the Food Insecurity Policy Institute.
Food Banks Canada, a Global Citizen regional response partner, was highlighted as part of the One World: Together At Home campaign. The organization serves roughly 85% of people accessing food programs in Canada, providing national leadership and supporting a network of 10 provincial associations and more than 500 affiliate food banks that work at the community level to relieve hunger.
Earlier this month, Food Banks Canada CEO Chris Hatch stressed the need for support during these formidable circumstances.
"With the growing need, it is important — now more than ever — to ensure that the most vulnerable people in Canada are not left behind. We need to look after our neighbours in need," he said in a statement.
Food banks across the country are seeing a spike in demand, while being simultaneously strained due to the reduction in donations and volunteers amid the pandemic. This comes as economic hardships are exacerbated and unemployment reaches troubling highs in Canada, leaving food banks bracing for an aggressive rise in demand for their services.
Funds raised from Stronger Together will be used to source essential food across the national food bank network, as well as operational innovation, including alternative delivery systems to safely serve Canadians amid newfound challenges engendered by COVID-19.
Thank you to everyone who watched and supported #StrongerTogether#TousEnsemble🧡💛 There is still plenty of time to make a donation! @StrongerCanada— Food Banks Canada | Banques alimentaires Canada (@foodbankscanada) April 27, 2020
Text COVID to 30333
The Event Also Honoured the Pain of the Nova Scotia Tragedy
The show comes on the heartbreaking heels of a devastating mass shooting in Nova Scotia, with at least 22 victims killed on April 18 and 19. The worst mass shooting in Canadian history, several messages and performances during the event were dedicated to grieving families.
The broadcasters of Stronger Together announced that in addition to the funds dedicated to Food Banks Canada, they have dedicated an additional $1.5 million for the victims’ families as they weather this loss amid the pandemic.
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Editor's note: This article and headline have been corrected. The article originally stated that the broadcasters pooled $150 million for Food Banks Canada.