Friday, August 27, 2010

Second Harvest Delivers Six Millionth Pound of Food

Food rescue organization helps rebuild communities after recession

TORONTO, August 26, /Canada NewsWire/ - Today Second Harvest, a charitable organization that rescues and delivers perishable food items to social service agencies in Toronto, delivered its six millionth pound of food for this year. This is the first time in the organization's twenty-five year history that such a high volume of food has been recovered in a single fiscal year.

In 2009 the social service agencies that receive food from Second Harvest reported a 20-30 per cent increase in people coming through their doors requiring assistance. Agencies specifically saw a large increase in those who are considered 'working poor' - people affected by job loss or reduced work hours.

Melissa Dedic, Foodraiser at Second Harvest says, "we are committed to feeding Toronto's hungry, especially during difficult times. This year we responded to the dramatic increase in the demand for food by growing our food donations significantly. The food we recover and donate helps those most affected by the recession start rebuilding their lives."

One of Second Harvest's food recipients, the Salvation Army on River Street, operates a food bank and a café that serves 100 meals a day. According to Wayne Rumsby, a community pastor at the Salvation Army, the past two years have been a challenge for the organization.

"We are very thankful to be on the receiving end of Second Harvest's work. Good food should not end up in landfill when people in our community are hungry," says Rumsby.

All food items distributed by Second Harvest are perishable goods that would otherwise go to waste. Donations are supplied by community-minded restaurants, grocery stores, food manufacturers and distributors. Second Harvest is grateful for the generosity of all their food partners.

In addition to feeding hungry Torontonians, Second Harvest also prevented over one million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere this year by diverting excess food from landfills. To learn more about Second Harvest or to make a donation, please visit

About Second Harvest

Second Harvest is a charitable organization that takes a common-sense approach to hunger. For the past twenty-five years Second Harvest has been picking up donated, perishable food, which would otherwise go to waste, and delivering that food to over 200 social service agencies in Toronto. Recognized for efficiency and impact of services, independent research group Charity Intelligence Canada named Second Harvest a Ci Recommended Charity in 2009. The organization recently received a 'Grade A' from MoneySense magazine.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Forced suspension of World Vision leaves thousands of lives in jeopardy in Somalia

TORONTO, August 16, 2010 /Canada NewsWire/ - Last week's suspension of World Vision programs in south central Somalia will mean almost certain starvation for thousands of children, the aid agency said today.

More than 3,400 children were receiving vital nutritional feeding from the organization before it was forced to suspend its operations last week by militant group Al-Shabaab.

World Vision says that last week alone, they had 51 severely malnourished children admitted to their stabilization centres and they are now concerned about the fate of these children.

A quarter of a million women and newborn children are also facing an uncertain future with the closure of nine mother and child healthcare centres and 162 health posts across the affected regions, leaving them with no access to vital, primary healthcare.

Hundreds of patients (227) were being treated for TB in another program and World Vision says interrupting their treatment at this critical time in their recovery puts them at high risk of the disease gathering strength, in a drug-resistant form.

Suspension of livelihood programs will further exacerbate the vulnerability of more than one million people who were dependent on ongoing World Vision projects for their economic survival.

Ongoing conflict in Somalia has heavily restricted humanitarian space for aid agencies over the past few years, and this latest closure is a further blow to those already suffering the most.

World Vision says that there is no unilateral solution to the problems in Somalia and lasting development and peace building will only be viable if leadership for them comes from indigenous and acceptable Somali process.

"In a country where one out of every seven children dies before their fifth birthday, and one mother in every hundred dies during pregnancy or childbirth, the situation is a big blow to the vulnerable. Given the humanitarian cost of our programs being suspended, we want to get back in and to work as soon as possible"

"All those involved in this conflict must observe international humanitarian law, and ensure protection and care for the vulnerable. The children of Somalia deserve nothing less than a peaceful environment" - Chris Smoot, Program Director, World Vision Somalia


- World Vision has been working in Somalia since 1992.
- World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome extreme poverty and injustice, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or gender.

Friday, August 13, 2010

New Polling Shows Overwhelming Support for Organ and Tissue Donation

Long wait lists and gaps in supply and demand not due to lack of interest

OTTAWA, August 13, 2010 /Canada NewsWire Telbec/ - While more than 4,000 Canadians are on wait lists for organ transplants - and every day-and-a-half, one patient dies waiting - Canada's low deceased organ donation rate cannot be attributed to a lack of public support.

As world experts gather next week in Vancouver to discuss strategies for increasing organ donation and transplantation rates, a recent Ipsos Reid poll shows that Canadians are strong proponents of both organ and tissue donation. But confusion about how to declare their support for donation in the current system may be a key factor in Canada's flat donation rate for the past decade. At about 14 donors per million, our national organ donor rate (deceased) is less than half that of the best performing countries.

The poll shows that the majority of Canadians have either made the decision to donate, or are open to it, however few have taken action to register their consent. Further, seven in 10 Canadians cannot name the organization responsible for managing the organ and tissue donation and transplantation (OTDT) system within their province or territory-demonstrating confusion about how to register and with whom.

"The current system saves lives every day, but what this poll tells us is that we have an opportunity to do so much better," says Dr. Graham Sher, CEO of Canadian Blood Services, which commissioned the poll as part of public consultations on system improvements in OTDT . "What Canadians are telling us is that they need a clearer, more responsive system that makes it easy for them to act on their support, and that ultimately respects their wishes."

Other key poll findings include:

- Canadians agree that improving access to organ and tissue donation is a top health-care priority, and that increased education and awareness about donation options for both the public and medical communities is key. They also believe that a physician or medical professional should approach families at the appropriate time to discuss donation options.

- While Canadians are united in the need for an improved OTDT system, their opinions differ on potential remedies; for instance:

- 88 per cent believe the wishes of a deceased person who has signed a donor card or registered their intent should be followed - regardless of the wishes of next-of-kin

- However, only 54 per cent of Canadians favour "presumed
consent," in which organs and tissues are considered public good unless one "opts out." Meanwhile, 45 per cent are decidedly opposed to a system that assumes consent without prior consultation.

- Most Canadians list inter-provincial collaboration as the top priority for developing an integrated system, to ensure wait times are consistent across the country and that patients have a fair chance of receiving a transplant, regardless of where they live.

This polling information supports data that Canadian Blood Services collected during a series of nine public dialogue consultations held across the country in recent months. In particular, public dialogue participants expressed surprise that wait times for organs vary widely across the country. Similar to Ipsos' data, consultation participants placed a high premium on equality and fairness; and improved collaboration nationwide.

In August 2008, Canadian Blood Services was mandated by the federal, provincial and territorial governments outside Quebec to develop a recommendation for the design of an integrated system to improve organ and tissue donation and transplantation (OTDT) in Canada. Since then, the organization has been consulting broadly with industry experts both at home and internationally, with key patient groups, and with the Canadian public. A series of recommendations is being developed based on those consultations.

In 2008, there were more than 2,000 organ transplants performed in Canada, while at the same time more than 4,300 Canadians remained on a wait list for transplantation. During that period, 215 died without receiving the transplant that might have saved their lives.

To read the full polling results, please visit

To read the full report on Canadian Blood Services' public dialogue consultations, please visit