Second Harvest Steps in to Help Laid-off Goodwill Employees

After the abrupt closure of 16 Goodwill locations, Second Harvest, in partnership with Canadian Airport Workers Union (CAWU), stepped in to help feed more than 400 laid-off employees.

Staff piled into the Second Harvest warehouse, forming assembly lines to pack 400 boxes and bags full of fresh, frozen and shelf-stable foods. Hoping to ease some of the challenges Goodwill employees are facing, Second Harvest staff prepared food packages to last each recipient a week.

Once the packages were assembled and ready for distribution, Second Harvest drivers – Santiago Holguin and Ian MacLeod hit the road, destined for 15 Goodwill locations across southern Ontario, including Brampton, Newmarket, Orillia, Barrie, Toronto, Mississauga, Ottawa and Brockville.

One of the first stops was the Goodwill distribution centre in Scarborough. As the Second Harvest truck pulled up to the parking lot on a cold January morning, a small crowd of former Goodwill employees stood awaiting its arrival.

Huddled among the crowd was 64-year old Gail Kadri, who said she was completely shocked by the store closures. Employed at Goodwill for the past 20 years, Kadri says she is uncertain of what the future holds for her.

“This is really hard for us all,” said Kadri. “I have no savings, so these groceries will help feed me for a while.”

Kadri is one of hundreds of former Goodwill employees who picked up Second Harvest food packages, all of which contained approximately 50 pounds of food made up of fresh produce (carrots, peppers, cucumbers, apples, lettuce), frozen food (frozen meat, prepared meals), dairy and shelf-stable products (flour, rice, soup, pasta).

"The need is obvious: workers will be wondering where their next meal is coming from. This is what we do, every day. We feed people experiencing hunger," says Debra Lawson, Second Harvest’s Executive Director.

To watch video news coverage of the story, click here.

Jessica Westwood-Smith, Second Harvest employee preparing food packages in our warehouse.

From left to right, Second Harvest staff Jennifer Chow and Ashley Ferguson, preparing food packages for distribution.

Distributing food packages to laid-off Goodwill employees on January 23.

Second Harvest Executive Director, Debra Lawson, embracing Denise, a laid-off Goodwill employee.

Second Harvest staff with Goodwill employees from the Scarborough Goodwill distribution centre.

Second Harvest food deliveries in Brockville, Ontario.