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TORONTO, Ont. - Food banks are a sad fact of life. Without them, upwards of 750,000 Canadians would go hungry every month. But few people realize how important trucking companies, owner/operators and ...




TORONTO, Ont. – Food banks are a sad fact of life. Without them, upwards of 750,000 Canadians would go hungry every month. But few people realize how important trucking companies, owner/operators and individual drivers are in this vital chain that feeds the nation’s poor.

“Without donated trucking, nothing would move,” says Aynsley Morris. As national transport manager of the Canadian Association of Food Banks, she is entirely dependent on the contributions of carriers and drivers. Morris coordinates the movement of dry goods for a network of 200 food banks across the country. That’s 6.5 million lbs. that moves every year free of charge.

Her office looks like the logistics center of any transport company, except this one is on the top floor of a dowdy, near-abandoned warehouse beside Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway (at press time, the Daily Bread Food Bank was in the process of moving to a new location in Etobicoke). Amid spread sheets, tote boards and a tonne of paperwork on her desk, the 27-year-old transport manager frets about five trailer loads of pledged cereal that is sitting in a Mississauga warehouse.

“I’ve got 100 pallets of product but I don’t want to bring it in here,” Morris says. “Some of it’s going to Halifax, some to Montreal and the rest is going on to St. John’s, Nfld.”

That’s where people like Steve Horky, line-haul manager for Highland Transport in Markham, Ont., come into play. Highland runs about three loads a month from Toronto to the Montreal foodbank on Maissoneuve Blvd.

“It’s not wasted space,” he says. “I have to reposition units in Quebec that would have to deadhead, anyway. Aynsley will call for a truck, and I’ll tell her, `not today, but I can get you one Thursday.'”

The movement of donated foodstuffs to Montreal is particularly crucial. According to national statistics, 38 per cent of food bank usage is in Quebec, and the Montreal facility channels goods to other regional centers throughout the province.

“If I get 66 skids of coffee,” says Morris, “I know one full load is going to Montreal.”

Horky is excited about the project, which he says is supported from Highland’s executive on down.

“It’s something that we can do. We don’t even have any dock space, but we’re a full load carrier and one of our main lanes is between Ontario and Quebec,” Horky explains. “The drivers get paid to haul it, and they like doing it because they know it’s for a good cause.”

CAT transport also runs loads gratis to Montreal. Some of the product is then loaded on to sea containers and shipped to Newfoundland, where it is delivered by Day and Ross throughout the island.

Besides the biggies, regional carriers also play as critical a role in the web of food support agencies. Red Deer, Alta., located midway between Calgary and Edmonton, would be the perfect place for a distribution centre serving food banks around the province. And thanks to the generosity of Hi-way 9 Express, it is.

Not only does the company supply free cartage, it also offers its old warehouse to the Red Deer Food Society at a greatly reduced rate. Dean Kohut, a director of Hi-way 9 Express, estimates that he delivers about one 48-foot trailer from Calgary to Red Deer every week.

“We’re a part of this community and we want to be a big part of it,” he says. “If everyone in this country did a little, we’d solve the problem.”

Similar sentiments are echoed on the other side of Canada. “I think there has gotten to be more of a demand (for food banks),” says Todd Hatt of Halifax’s Sure Courier.

For years, his company has been delivering boxes of food and small skids to drop-off points along Nova Scotia’s south shore, from Dartmouth to Yarmouth.

“It’s something we can do that doesn’t cost us any money,” says Hatt, who sees helping the hungry as part of the owner’s legacy, the recently deceased Christopher Swinamer.

“This is a good news trucking story,” says Morris. “We’re desperately trying to get that message out. People are crapping about trucks all the time, but this is something they don’t realize.”

Morris wants the public to know about the unsung heros of the trucking industry.

People like Vernon Erb, whose refrigerated trucks make deliveries of produce from Thunder Bay to Niagara Falls; Darcy Timmins, owner of Madd River Transport, who freely donates his time and equipment to make city pick-ups in the GTA; Marc Beddoe, a Welland, Ont. trucker, who organized a convoy of trucks from eight local transport companies on Dec. 16 to deliver non-perishable food from the Hamilton Food Share to depots around the Niagara Peninsula.

Recently, Morris lost the services of a major carrier after a paying customer found out about how much work it was doing for the food bank.

Luckily, she has been able to scramble and get other companies to take up the slack.

But getting containers to the rail yards is a huge expense. Although CN and CP allow unlimited movement on their tracks, and NYK Lines supplies the cans, Morris is stuck with the prohibitive cost of moving containers to and from the railheads. She points to a container in the docks that is being loaded for Surrey, B.C. “There must be someone out there with a tractor and a chassis who can help us move containers,” she says. “We can move a unit 5,000 km for free but we have to pay to get it to Brampton.” n

, Ont. – Food banks are a sad fact of life. Without them, upwards of 750,000 Canadians would go hungry every month. But few people realize how important trucking companies, owner/operators and individual drivers are in this vital chain that feeds the nation’s poor.

“Without donated trucking, nothing would move,” says Aynsley Morris. As national transport manager of the Canadian Association of Food Banks, she is entirely dependent on the contributions of carriers and drivers. Morris coordinates the movement of dry goods for a network of 200 food banks across the country. That’s 6.5 million lbs. that moves every year free of charge.

Her office looks like the logistics center of any transport company, except this one is on the top floor of a dowdy, near-abandoned warehouse beside Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway (at press time, the Daily Bread Food Bank was in the process of moving to a new location in Etobicoke). Amid spread sheets, tote boards and a tonne of paperwork on her desk, the 27-year-old transport manager frets about five trailer loads of pledged cereal that is sitting in a Mississauga warehouse.

“I’ve got 100 pallets of product but I don’t want to bring it in here,” Morris says. “Some of it’s going to Halifax, some to Montreal and the rest is going on to St. John’s, Nfld.”

That’s where people like Steve Horky, line-haul manager for Highland Transport in Markham, Ont., come into play. Highland runs about three loads a month from Toronto to the Montreal foodbank on Maissoneuve Blvd.

“It’s not wasted space,” he says. “I have to reposition units in Quebec that would have to deadhead, anyway. Aynsley will call for a truck, and I’ll tell her, `not today, but I can get you one Thursday.'”

The movement of donated foodstuffs to Montreal is particularly crucial. According to national statistics, 38 per cent of food bank usage is in Quebec, and the Montreal facility channels goods to other regional centers throughout the province.

“If I get 66 skids of coffee,” says Morris, “I know one full load is going to Montreal.”

Horky is excited about the project, which he says is supported from Highland’s executive on down.

“It’s something that we can do. We don’t even have any dock space, but we’re a full load carrier and one of our main lanes is between Ontario and Quebec,” Horky explains. “The drivers get paid to haul it, and they like doing it because they know it’s for a good cause.”

CAT transport also runs loads gratis to Montreal. Some of the product is then loaded on to sea containers and shipped to Newfoundland, where it is delivered by Day and Ross throughout the island.

Besides the biggies, regional carriers also play as critical a role in the web of food support agencies. Red Deer, Alta., located midway between Calgary and Edmon
ton, would be the perfect place for a distribution centre serving food banks around the province. And thanks to the generosity of Hi-way 9 Express, it is.

Not only does the company supply free cartage, it also offers its old warehouse to the Red Deer Food Society at a greatly reduced rate. Dean Kohut, a director of Hi-way 9 Express, estimates that he delivers about one 48-foot trailer from Calgary to Red Deer every week.

“We’re a part of this community and we want to be a big part of it,” he says. “If everyone in this country did a little, we’d solve the problem.”

Similar sentiments are echoed on the other side of Canada. “I think there has gotten to be more of a demand (for food banks),” says Todd Hatt of Halifax’s Sure Courier.

For years, his company has been delivering boxes of food and small skids to drop-off points along Nova Scotia’s south shore, from Dartmouth to Yarmouth.

“It’s something we can do that doesn’t cost us any money,” says Hatt, who sees helping the hungry as part of the owner’s legacy, the recently deceased Christopher Swinamer.

“This is a good news trucking story,” says Morris. “We’re desperately trying to get that message out. People are crapping about trucks all the time, but this is something they don’t realize.”

Morris wants the public to know about the unsung heros of the trucking industry.

People like Vernon Erb, whose refrigerated trucks make deliveries of produce from Thunder Bay to Niagara Falls; Darcy Timmins, owner of Madd River Transport, who freely donates his time and equipment to make city pick-ups in the GTA; Marc Beddoe, a Welland, Ont. trucker, who organized a convoy of trucks from eight local transport companies on Dec. 16 to deliver non-perishable food from the Hamilton Food Share to depots around the Niagara Peninsula.

Recently, Morris lost the services of a major carrier after a paying customer found out about how much work it was doing for the food bank.

Luckily, she has been able to scramble and get other companies to take up the slack.

But getting containers to the rail yards is a huge expense. Although CN and CP allow unlimited movement on their tracks, and NYK Lines supplies the cans, Morris is stuck with the prohibitive cost of moving containers to and from the railheads. She points to a container in the docks that is being loaded for Surrey, B.C. “There must be someone out there with a tractor and a chassis who can help us move containers,” she says. “We can move a unit 5,000 km for free but we have to pay to get it to Brampton.” n

Running free

By Harry Rudolfs

TORONTO, Ont. – The trucking community is amazingly generous. One call to OK Transportation provides me with a brightly polished ’98 Mack tandem brimming with fuel. “Sure,” says company president John Lobraico without blinking when I ask him for a tractor to make some pickups and deliveries for the Daily Bread Food Bank around Toronto.

The reason for the tractor is the food agency’s trailer, which, according to warehouse manager Lorne Williams, gets little use. Donated by Train Trailer Rentals, the 48-foot trailer is a thing of beauty. Adorned with a bright vinyl decal depicting an azure sky and towering cumulus clouds, the unit is fully insulated and equipped with a reefer unit and power tailgate. The low hub miles, sticking roll up door, and unscratched interior attest to its under-utilization. “I’d use it every day if I could,” says Williams. But, unfortunately, the agency has no tractor in its fleet of straight trucks. Too often the wagon remains parked around the back of the facility.

Williams is anxious to get me on the road. He has six totes of mixed food going to Coachman Transport in Mississauga for furtherance to Newfoundland, and then he wants me to pick 40,000 lbs. of canned soup waiting in a warehouse near the airport. But the food bank is a busy place a couple of weeks before Christmas.

The docks are plugged with Loblaws trucks picking up donor packs of food items that are shipped to stores and sold to customers. The food and cash is then donated back to the Canadian Association of Food Banks. While I’m waiting to back in, another trailer pulls in with a load of fiber drums. Inside the old warehouse, things are just as hopping. A line of vans waits to get loaded in the interior docks.

Helpers fill boxes with non-perishable items, while forklifts steam around the floor pushing skids and tubs. Unpaid drivers stand around checking their waybills and manifests.

The spirit of volunteerism is infectious; ask any of the drivers that donate their time. Angel Roy drives a three-ton truck and makes deliveries to inner-city communities like Regent Park. Roy describes her motivation as “entirely selfish – I’m doing it to make myself feel good by helping others. And it’s a great feeling when you pull in the parking lot and there’s a crowd of people waiting to help you unload.”

Darcy Timmins of New Lowell, Ont. is equally as enthusiastic about the operation. As owner of the Madd River Transport Company, he’s happy to contribute a tractor and trailer about once a month for Daily Bread.

“I can’t afford to pay someone to make the pick-ups so I usually do it myself,” he says. “When you deliver 50,000 lbs. of food to them, everyone comes out of the office and congratulates you. Who knows, with the way rates and fuel prices are going, I might have to use their services, myself.” n


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