What's the two best places downtown with the least amount of hassle for getting food, like, soon? The Stop and the Fort York Food Bank. Both a huge pain, both sketchy as fuck, both totally not what and when they say they're going to be, and they both provide a mix of total impressive surprise and disappointment. So, do it up.
What's the next two best places that require a bit more organization to access but are totally worth the trip and goddamn consultation and all the sketchiness and waiting around etc? The Salvation Army thing on River street... um... north of Queen? North of Dundas? Or south of Dundas? Whatever? Something. And Oasis Dufferin. It's the least bullshit one, really. Their initial intake interview is like... ooh, this is weird. And then every time you go after that, they do this super brief one, after you wait just long enough to fill your mouth with cookies and coffee, and then they hook you up right away, you bring back whatever you can't eat, they replace that with other stuff you can eat, you go over to the next spot where they hook up the fresh food, and you're outta there. So goddamn quick, but it's only open once a week and it's early. And the location is just... it's so easy to show up there just barely too late. Or when they're having an unannounced, unexpected closure. No note on the door, type thing, just locked. Big fuck you. But hey, worth it the rest of the time, worth the occasional disappointment. Don't break down the door. Don't mark up their building with a bunch of angry tags. They're nice. They're just a bit fucked, like all these other places. Okay, too much info about that one place, but that's basically the procedure at most of these spots, it's just Oasis is the only one that's fast as fuck as you get the fuck out of there pretty quick. No huge hassle. It's just... some of the... well, you'll find out.
What's the one with the actual best food, some of which is organic, fresh, and locally-grown? It's The Stop, of course. Now when we're talking about The Stop, we're not talking about the first result that pops up in Google, the one that's actually marked visibly on the street, the one where you go there and they're like "what are you talking about, food bank, no way, get out of here, crazy bum" ...no. We're talking about the sketchy place that they provide food to but don't know about, that's got a street address on Davenport listed all over the place, but you can't see shit in terms of signage from Davenport. It's just an apartment building, what the fuck, we all have screaming in our heads the first few times we try to check it out. Yeah, it's behind the apartment building. Why would they put a nice big sign on the front? That would be way too fucking respectful and we obviously need every reminder that we are worthless and our time even more worthless. It's at Davenport, between Symington and Perth, a couple blocks west of Lansdowne. Yeah, so if you're on your way up there from the Scott Mission or some common shit, have fun with the commute. And for fucks sake, make it to breakfast. Because their food is actually good. It's like, wow, now I remember what food is like, after all these years of eating edible garbage at all these places. They actually use real food, and cook it up right there, and serve it up and they're still kind of a messy mix of rude, dismissive, nice, whatever they are at the moment, whoever you're talking to at the moment, and the coffee line is still a huge pain, and they cannot deal with the concept of cups, of course, seriously they cannot get their cup situation together in even the most basic way, but still. Damn fine breakfasts. You be like holy fuck, actual breakfast. That is some crazy shit. So definitely, do breakfast, then do the food bank, then do lunch. They only do the food bank on certain days. It's probably not the days that they claim it is. You want to get there an hour before the food bank opens, because of course they don't need to tell anyone that they start handing out tickets for the food bank an hour before it opens up. So that's another reason to do breakfast. Also, yeah, if you go for the food bank and it's lunchtime, you'll be so tempted to jump ship on waiting, and then you'll lose your food bank place in line, or rather sitting around at the tables all sketched out by everyone, super hungry, and that sucks. The whole place is so goddamn sketchy even though it doesn't look like it's going to be. It's just one of those things. They like doing the thing where they'll let some crazy person start accosting you and get all threateny, and of course you're not allowed to understand a word they're saying, and then the staff will come kick you out for provoking them, pretending not to have seen any of it. And then the person goes on to bully someone else. So it's weird. But yeah, best fucking food in the whole scene.
And some other sketchy leads to get you wondering... there's this thing somewhere along King between Dufferin and Lansdowne... or maybe it's Queen? North side of whichever of those streets it is. That's weekly. Yay, how useful is that mention. Okay, then there's the one that they built into the Upper Room, that place that's open every second saturday during summer, but every saturday during winter, on the north side of Queen, just west of Bathurst. Oh and by the way, nobody remembers what that place is called so you're fucked to track it down. It's an evening thing and they also have a clothing bank, and the whole thing is so crowded and sketchy just don't do it when you're not feeling stable of mind, ok? Not worth it. Nice sermon though. It's an urban church. The pastor can rock a six-string and if he wanted to, he could do a pretty good Bowie impersonation. But he doesn't seem into it. Big dinners at that shit, too. And then there's... what else is there? Seriously, who knows what else there is?
As for special-access stuff, like vegan stuff, organic stuff, women/men only, family-only stuff, no clue. This website is bad at that. Very bad at tracking the special access by demographic type stuff. Trans-specific stuff? That'd be cool. They pretty much avoid the food banks because what's the point when you're going to get threats of violence for an hour while waiting and all that? What is the point. Or really are you going to bring your family to one of these other places? Fuck no. Better to eat them. Just eat your kids. That'd be a better experience than bringing them along with you. Much better. Probably better food than most of what you'll get as well.
Here's a list of foods that have never, ever been seen at any food banks in Toronto:
That's it. Just nuts. Everything else, you'll see a little bit of. Absolutely no nuts though. Okay, maybe you'll get some like... shitty little bag of peanuts? Ultra-stale? Yeah, not helpful guys. No cashews, no almonds, there'll be almond milk once in a blue moon but no almonds, yeah. So don't expect that. You'll find nuts inside the sugar-encrusted crazy packaged "snacks" ...but fresh nuts with actual nutritional food value? No. Nope. Why would they do that. That's fat. It's awesome, wonderful fat, the kind that actually helps your body lose weight, and makes your brain go boing boing boing... but no. No nuts. Ever. If you spot nuts in a soup kitchen, take a photo of it and post the URL in one of these comments sections. That would be like seeing a fucking UFO. It would literally kill every single one of the staff member at any of these agencies for them to put nuts in the shit. They'd magically drop dead. That's why they don't do it. Superstition. They absolutely will not bring nuts.
Here's a list of stuff that you rarely see at food banks in Toronto:
- fruit that's not either canned or spoiled
- food that's not made by Monsanto, as in, it's almost all genetically modified, pesticide-laden bullshit that everybody mistakes for food
- dairy alternatives, so, almond milk, soy cheese, whatever
- organic anything at all, except at the Stop, sometimes
- fresh produce, like root veggies, leafy greens, you know, what people who aren't fucked in the head from growing up in North America in the 70s, 80s and 90s, would consider food
- meat, especially fresh meat
- non-processed cheese, so, cheese that's not more chemically similar to plastic than to dairy cheese
For fucks sake leave some tips in the comments below about where more food banks and stuff are and about how erroneous and out of date this info is, this is crazy how sketchy it is to find free groceries in Toronto. There's tons, but still! Oh my god.