Metro Toronto Convention Centre Does Its Part to Help Those in Need

June 25, 2018

Convention centers that are passionate about sustainability and helping their local communities might want to consider following the example of the Metro Toronto Convention Center, which boasts a robust food donation program that partners with events and conferences to reduce food waste by donating leftover food to local organizations dedicated to combatting hunger. 

In fiscal year 2017/2018, the Canadian facility contributed more than 90,000 kg (198,416 lbs.) of food – the equivalent in weight to 16 elephants– to Toronto organizations that support individuals in need.

According to MTCC officials, this is the most food donated by the Centre in one year in the facility’s history.

“We are very proud of the success of our donation program,” said Barry Smith, MTCC president and CEO. “It stands as a key element in our Centre’s commitment to making a positive impact in the local community.” 

Launched in May of 2009 out of the desire to not only help the less fortunate in the Toronto community but also reduce the amount of food waste produced by events at the MTCC, the facility’s food donation program works with local organizations including Daily Bread Food Bank, Second Harvest, TDSB’s Student Nutrition Program and Margaret’s Housing and Community Support Services, partners that have been instrumental in the success of the program, according to MTCC officials.

A huge key to the success of the program was to develop partners in the community who could take the food at quite short notice – both to maximize freshness of the food being donated and since storage is at a premium in our facility particularly during very busy times,” said Vivian Fleet, MTCC sustainability manager.

She continued, “Our food and item donation programs are important to our company as they not only support the local community, but they also help us maintain a high waste diversion rate and encourage employee engagement and satisfaction in their day-to-day work.”

The most substantial single-event food donation of the year resulted from the Loblaw Companies Limited conference, which took place in early 2018 and contributed 27,990 kg of food – the equivalent of 16 mid-sized cars – to Second Harvest and Daily Bread Food Bank. 

The donation to Daily Bread Food Bank alone helped support over 2,000 people in Toronto, according to MTCC officials.

In March, several local food banks and nutrition programs became the recipients of 4,969 kg (10,955 lbs.) of fresh food donations from the MTCC, a significant amount of which came from a major technology conference that donated 3,616 kg (7,972 lbs.) of food – the equivalent of approximately 12,053 meals.

“The in-kind donations Margaret’s Housing and Community Support Services receives from the Metro Toronto Convention Centre have a quantifiable impact on the physical and emotional lives of the people we serve – women, the homeless and those living with mental illness,” said Diane Walter, executive director at Margaret’s Housing and Community Support Services.

She added, “They also help us play a small part in making our planet more sustainable.” 

Besides working with food banks, the MTCC also donated almost 57,000 kg (125,663 lbs.) of reusable items including books, office supplies, clothing, totes and delegate bags, as well as furniture and centerpieces from trade shows and conferences to Habitat for Humanity, TDSB’s Arts Junktion Program and Red Door Family Shelter during the 2017/18 fiscal year.

“Our food and item donation programs are an important aspect of our facility’s commitment to making a meaningful impact in our community,” said Vince Quattrociocchi, vice president of operations at the MTCC. 

He added, “Beyond economic impact, convention centres can make a real difference in the lives of those in need by donating food and reusable items in an efficient way to local charities and we certainly encourage other convention facilities to implement these programs.”

To learn more about MTCC’s sustainable practices, go HERE.


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