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When the pandemic hit in early 2020, many North York residents who had previously been financially secure suddenly found themselves in need of necessities such as food, as a result of layoffs and supply chain disruptions. 

Circle of Care’s iRIDE drivers were in a unique position to help. Due to lockdowns and travel restrictions, the program was only providing necessary rides for medical care, leaving the program with the capacity to do more. By working with fellow community organizations, we formed the North York Food Cluster, and our drivers were to help bring meals to North York families in need.  

“I was glad to be able to be part of a very worthwhile cause,” says Danny, an iRIDE driver with Circle of Care. “It was a rewarding experience. I received so many smiles and comments from people when I appeared at their door with their meals.”

During Wave 1 of the pandemic, our iRIDE drivers delivered meals to vulnerable people in need, including young families and single mothers. All of our partners in this initiative were extremely flexible and accommodating, while also providing strong support to our drivers through effective and constant communication.

“It is comforting to know that there are organizations and agencies in North York that strive to make a difference just as much as Circle of Care does,” says Danny. “I applaud the people and the agencies that made this happen and am proud to assist.” 

Sheldon, Circle of Care iRIDE driver, ready to make some deliveries.
(Photo was taken without a mask to display face. All Circle of Care staff and volunteers follow appropriate COVID-19 health and safety procedures).

Partnering with these agencies gave Circle of Care the opportunity to assist new communities of people and maintain the health of vulnerable populations during a difficult year. The knowledge that the work we were doing was making a concrete difference during such a challenging time brought joy to our staff.

“Regardless of individuals’ ages, we truly became aware that there are many vulnerable populations in our community that need food, and we are grateful for the opportunity to participate in these food security initiatives to ensure that everyone has access to food, one of the very basic needs for survival,” says Cecile Raymond, Director of Client Services.

By working together with our partners, we were all able to achieve more. By pooling resources, and taking the best of what we each had to offer, the North York Food Cluster was able to have a strong and important impact on the North York community and help hungry households survive through the pandemic.