Mazon is a grassroots community foundation that feeds Jewish and non-Jewish people in need though a network of 250+ food aid partner programs. Through this national network, Mazon provides our partners direct funding for the purchasing of food and critical infrastructure to strengthen their programs and feed their communities.
For 36 years, Mazon has cultivated a network of trusted partner relationships in more than 100 cities and towns across Canada. Every day, our partners are feeding their communities in bustling urban centres like Toronto (ON) and Montreal (QC); remote capitals like Iqaluit (NU) and Whitehorse (YK); and small rural townships like Slocan (BC) and Loon Lake (SK). When the landscape of food insecurity shifts, Mazon feels the tremors. Quickly and precisely, we direct the Jewish community’s resources to sites of greatest need.
The Lay of the Land
TO A NETWORK OF 250+ FRONT-LINE FOOD AID PARTNERS
FROM OUR NATIONAL
Our Grantmaking Approach
At Mazon, we strive to listen intently, learn with humility, and lend support responsively. To build trust and build bridges. To care for the neighbour, and the stranger. To do our work according to the twin aspects of Tzedakah: charity and justice.
As a first principle, Mazon's grantmaking starts with a foundation of trust in the fundamental honesty, integrity, and expertise of staff and volunteers on the front lines of Canada’s hunger crisis: people who live and work alongside food insecure people and have committed their lives to helping the most vulnerable. Their work is our work. We believe that only together — in solidarity, trust, and mutual respect — can we stand against hunger and win.
TO REGIONS AND
Since 2019, the number of organizations applying for Mazon grants has nearly doubled.
When making hard decisions between these applicants, we prioritize:
Programs with small operating budgets and/or large volunteer workforces.
Programs that operate in rural communities where resources are scarce.
Programs that support marginalized, racialized, or acutely vulnerable groups.
(Examples might include a meal delivery program serving a primarily Indigenous urban neighbourhood, or a shelter home that supports women fleeing domestic violence).
Programs that go beyond food by offering clients support ending their food insecurity.
(Examples might include a safe-injection site that provides meals and connects clients with addictions counselling, or a multi-service agency that helps clients secure housing or employment).
Programs that offer clients a seat at the table.
(Additional priority is given to programs where institutional leadership shares relevant lived experience with clients and/or are themselves former clients).
Our Funding Priorities
The vast majority of our funding goes to the purchase of food. But purchasing food directly isn't always the most impactful or efficient way to fight hunger. Some partners need to replace broken kitchen equipment; some need help growing their own food. Others need support to launch a new, innovative program that could lift up and empower their community.
Through four distinct granting streams, Mazon balances these needs, along with the competing demands of Canada's hunger crisis: to feed people in the present, while also investing in the future by building stronger food systems and more resilient communities.
Our Granting Streams
Grocery Grants are the backbone of Mazon's impact. Earmarked for the direct purchasing of food, Mazon's Grocery Grants allow our partners to buy items that are seldom donated. Because each community has different needs, each organization uses their funding differently.
Some buy fresh foods like produce, dairy, or meat. Others source Kosher or Halal food for their observant clients, or accommodate special diets by providing celiac or chemo-friendly options. There are even those that don't buy food at all, instead distributing grocery gift-cards to maximize client autonomy. In 2022, Grocery Grants provided more than 365,000 meals to people in need.
Imagine the frustration of preparing 100 meals each day with a broken-handled knife, or wasting good chicken because your freezer turned itself off in the night... again. That's where Mazon's Infrastructure Grants come in — replacing failing or inadequate equipment with high quality, durable alternatives.
Infrastructure Grants are about equipping front line food aid organizations with the tools they need to feed their communities for years to come. This is especially true for grant recipients that accept food donations from local businesses and farms. Because cold storage is essential for these food rescue operations, ill-equipped programs are forced to turn away perfectly good food. At these programs, Infrastructure Grants divert healthy food away from landfills, and onto plates.
Garden Grants fight hunger by teaching people to grow their own food, supplying low-cost fresh produce, and strengthening communities. Funds distributed through Mazon's Garden Grants are earmarked for the purchasing of garden startup and maintenance supplies, like soil and seedlings, fencing, rakes and hoes, and more.
Powered by Garden Grants, Mazon's network of community gardens help fight climate change by reducing the distance food needs to travel from farm to table, cutting down on carbon emissions, and eliminating single use plastic packaging – all while providing high-quality produce, improving mental health, and bringing communities together.
Innovative Grants empower our partners to envision bold solutions to complex problems. Because each grant is flexibly tailored the recipient's unique circumstances, the downstream impacts of this granting stream are diverse:
In 2022, Innovative Grants:
Supported Indigenous food sovereignty in Nunavut by subsidizing a local community food centre hoping to purchase meat from local hunters.
Helped low income newcomers in Nova Scotia start small food-based businesses through an innovative social enterprise model.
Provided culturally relevant food to diverse disaporic communities in Ontario by offering seed funding to an "Ethnic Food Box" pilot program.