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How the Daily Bread Food Bank Began

Sister Marie Tremblay shares her memories of the beginning of the Daily Bread Food Bank:
At some point I said, “I have to make a statement of some kind. I can’t just be doing this.” I ended up in India in 1975. It was a very positive experience. I went to India out of solidarity with the poor. I did not go as a missionary. Not that I intended to go and save anybody, but at least to have a first-hand view of the hunger situation. So it seemed to flow naturally that I would be interested in starting a food bank here.

I took early retirement in 1981 because I wanted to get into some social justice ministry. In 1982 I did see a food bank down in Colorado Springs but it was a small local one. At least it gave me a clue. It was not easy. I then contacted some people who would be interested. I thought, ‘If there is such a thing as surplus food around that’s edible, it should be distributed rather than destroyed.’ It was a social justice action in itself. People have a right to food. I did have a meeting on Jan. 7, 1983 and every week then for two or three months. We had a meeting in February 1983 of 40 agencies… the forty reps said, yes, they would like a food bank that would supplement what food they were already getting. Most of them were trying to feed people already, but if we could have a central clearing house, that would suit them fine. So I felt that I made a commitment then, and despite all the ups and downs that we had afterwards, I stuck with it.

The Council (of my community) was quite supportive. I was trying to raise seed money for this thing to get off the ground. I went to the churches and different Catholic organizations and foundations. We decided on the place… We went ahead… St. Michael’s Hospital donated furniture…we did start, very modest, very slow. It was January 1984 that we started distributing food at the Daily Bread Food Bank.

By Marie Tremblay CSJ (pictured above at right, with Sister Trudy Cortens, left)
Taken from: Wisdom Raises Her Voice: An Oral History, pages 78-79, edited by Elizabeth M. Smyth and Linda Wicks, Transcontinental Printing, 2001, © Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto.

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