A New Emergency Food Aid Service Has Launched To Support LGBTQ+ Seniors In Toronto
LifeCrates is Toronto’s new emergency food aid service and they want to remind people that LGBTQ+ seniors matter…
A new emergency food aid service, called LifeCrates, recently launched in Toronto. LifeCrates’ focus is on supporting low-income seniors in the city, providing them with crates of food that can last them for a month.
Each crate contains approximately 70,000 calories and has been calibrated by a team of registered dieticians to provide all of an average senior’s nutritional needs. To visualize what’s inside, items include foods such as lentils, pasta, oats, cheese, powdered skim milk, tuna, poultry, and durable produce such as potatoes. Each crate also comes with educational pamphlets to help seniors understand how to portion and cook foods that they may be unfamiliar with. While a handful of new food aid services have launched in the past month, LifeCrates is the only one that is focussed specifically on seniors.
LifeCrates is not explicitly an LGBTQ+ program, but its founder, Adam Zivo, has a long history of LGBTQ+ activism as the founder and director of the LoveisLoveisLove campaign, a queer advocacy campaign known for its large scale art and educational installations, such as Toronto’s Big Gay Bus. Zivo wants to ensure that LGBTQ+ seniors are adequately serviced by food aid programs, whether through LifeCrates or other programs. Zivo says, “What the general public needs to remember is that LGBTQ+ seniors often lack the support systems that are otherwise taken for granted within the senior service space. They by and large don’t have adult children who they can rely on, and, having grown up during less tolerant times, they are less likely to have close connections with family members who can check in on them.” Zivo emphasizes that, though the recent surge in food aid programming is both “remarkable and inspiring”, it’s important to think about special barriers some populations may experience.
Though LifeCrates primarily focuses on low-income seniors, regardless of orientation, the organization also has a partnership program to target more specific communities. Their first partnership was with the Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention (“Black CAP”). Within that partnership, they helped accelerate Black CAP’s new in-house food aid program, “The AYA Project”, which is Canada’s first food aid program tailored to African-Carribean-Black communities. Zivo says, “There are many food aid programs percolating in Toronto, each with their own capacities, strengths, and weaknesses. We recognize that, in developing our own program, we’re building out resources that ought to be shared with others. There’s no need for everyone to work in parallel to each other. We need to work together.”
Zivo hopes that he can expand LifeCrates’ partnership model to support LGBTQ-focussed programs. He adds, “Though this program is meant for all Torontonians, I can’t deny that my experiences, as a gay man as an actvist, create a sepcial sense of obligation to the LGBTQ+ community. Hence I want to find ways to support LGBTQ+ people as much as possible while respecting LifeCrates’ mandate as a broad program for all Torontonians.” Zivo asks that LGBTQ+ community members refer queer seniors to LifeCrates for support, and make them aware of other aid food programs in Toronto, such as Operation Ramzieh. Increased donations to LGBTQ+ organizations, such as The 519, are also crucial given the support services they provide, whether food-related or not. Above this, LifeCrates is looking for community partners who can help fund LGBTQ-specific food aid. Zivo concludes, “If you’re an LGBTQ+ organization and looking to set up a food aid delivery program, connect with us. We can either implement it for you, or provide you with resources and consultation to get your program running faster.”