Knock knock: Mass food drive tonight in hundreds of Ontario apartment buildings

High rise dwellers might get a door knock tonight, as a massive door-to-door food drive celebrates its 20th year in Ontario.

Volunteers in around 35 communities will make their way through more than 1,500 properties — mainly multi-unit apartments — asking for donations, said Spring H.O.P.E. Food Drive founder Bonnie Hoy.

Her six-year-old daughter Beverlee inspired the annual event two decades ago, Hoy said, after visiting a food drive on their street.

She said "Mummy, you could collect a lot more food if they did it in apartment buildings," Hoy recalled, speaking on CBC's Metro Morning. 

You need the building owner's permission to go door-to-door — but Hoy worked in the property management industry.

"[My daughter] said, 'Well Mummy, other people might not know who the landlords are, but you certainly do,'" Hoy said.

Started with 7 buildings

In their first "test" year, they went through seven buildings in Davisville — and collected around 20,000 pounds of food. 

"We thought, oh my goodness this could really make a difference," said Hoy, who then connected with the city's major food banks.

The food drive became a "family passion," Hoy said, and kept growing each year. Twenty years later, her daughter is still "passionately involved" in the drive and is now a social worker in Sarnia.

"I think she always had just a real people spirit," Hoy said. "It was just true to her personality and character, even then."

Submitted by Bonnie Hoy

The drive eventually became too big to manage on their own, so Hoy passed it on to the Greater Toronto Apartment Association the Federation of Rental Housing Providers in 2007. But she and Beverlee still volunteer every year.

Food banks need Spring donations

More than 1,000 volunteers will be helping  this year, Hoy said, and the donations will be distributed to food banks across the province. They will be door knocking on close to 1,000 properties in the GTA and hundreds more outside of the city, Hoy said.

"These food banks need this food to help carry them through the spring and summer months," said Hoy. The first drive was actually at Christmas, but the food banks asked her to move it to Spring, she said.

 "Without it, the shelves are going to be empty."

Submitted by Bonnie Hoy

This year's drive starts Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. and goes until around 9:30 p.m.

An estimated two million pounds of food has been donated over the past 20 years.

Submitted by Bonnie Hoy