TORONTO — Jamal Campbell has seen both sides of the food bank experience.
Last year, the Toronto Argonauts’ offensive lineman was the towering figure in the background, organizing donations for the Purolator Tackle Hunger® program. A community-minded player from the day he was drafted by the Argos in 2016, Campbell sees a good cause and dives in. Named a Toronto Urban Hero in 2017 for his community involvement, his work with Purolator was a no-brainer for him.
“They run a great initiative. They’re providing food for people that are in need,” Campbell said from his home in downtown Toronto, close to the Argos’ headquarters on the Canadian National Exhibition grounds.
“During regular times, or times that we were used to, there was a great need for food donations…but now it’s even more important. You can see how this impacts the community.”
Campbell is proud to be a spokesperson for the Argos in the CFL’s partnership with the Purolator Tackle Hunger program. Since its inception in 2003, Purolator Tackle Hunger has helped raise over 13 million pounds of food for people in need across the country.
While Purolator usually gets the food drive rolling at stadiums across the country starting in June, the global COVID-19 pandemic has obviously increased the urgency for donations. That’s why the CFL and Purolator are kicking off their 2020 food drive on Monday, April 27.
Purolator, along with the CFL, TSN and RDS, are seeking cash donations that can be donated at TackleHunger.ca or BlitzContreLaFaim.ca. One hundred per cent of the donations received will be allocated by Food Banks Canada to its food bank network across the country in an effort to relieve hunger today and prevent hunger tomorrow.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen all Canadians come together to support one another. Our team is so proud of the work we do to help keep our economy moving and bring critical supplies to those who need them most, said John Ferguson, President and CEO, Purolator.
“Through our Purolator Tackle Hunger program – and the support of our partners like the CFL – we want to further extend this support to even more Canadians relying on food banks as a result of the impacts of COVID-19.”
As a child growing up in Toronto’s Jane and Finch neighbourhood, Campbell saw the receiving side of food banks. In a single-parent family, Campbell said he and his mother relied on food banks for a number of years through his childhood.
“Growing up, my family had to depend on food banks and donations sometimes,” he said. “I understand the importance of it.
“It made me grateful. I’m grateful for the little things that you can have. Even now, it shows that even more. Right now we’re at a time where there are a lot of people that are all going through this together. We’re all suffering together in a sense and we’re going to get through it.”
We’re all a product of our experiences and Campbell said those early years of his childhood helped shape who he is and what’s important to him today.
“Growing up with that way of thinking, it helped with my work ethic and it helped with who I am as a CFL player,” he said.
“The coronavirus has brought about an unprecedented situation in Canada and around the world,” said CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie.
“This virus has impacted our lives in countless ways: financially, emotionally, mentally and so much more, including a drastic increase in food insecurity. This crisis is larger than sports and business; it’s about people and life.
“In this time of self-isolation and staying apart, it’s important to know that we can come together for a cause. The coronavirus and food insecurity affect us all – children, families, communities and at our core, who we are as Canadians. Now more than ever, we must uplift, support and protect one another.”