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This group of volunteer cyclists delivers food to vulnerable communities

The Bike Brigade began as a result of COVID-19

Photo by: Dave Shellnutt @TheBikingLawyer

The Toronto Bike Brigade is a group of volunteer cyclists who work with community organizations that serve isolated and vulnerable communities to deliver essentials. The riders provide free delivery service for individuals in need. The Bike Brigade began at the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Humble beginnings

“My mom was in Florida, and when the pandemic began, I told her on March 13 to get back here as soon as possible,” Bike Brigade founder David Shellnutt explains. “When she got back, I knew I would have to deliver groceries to her as she was a senior and at higher risk. I realized there must be lots of people in the same situation, so I reached out to community organizers, and suggested a safe way to deliver goods by bike. The byproduct was that the volunteers could get out and be active as well as help the community.”

The volunteer group, which has now grown to a stable of 600 riders, works alongside a variety of organizations such as FoodShare, the People’s Pantry, and several food banks across the city.

Food insecurity a growing problem

“Although that’s how it formed, as a result of the pandemic, we’ve learned from partners that food insecurity is an issue long predating covid,” Shellnutt, a.k.a the Biking Lawyer, explained. With people returning to their work, the Bike Brigade is facing shortages of volunteers. When people were working from home, it was much easier to pop out at lunch or find time to volunteer. Being at the office again means many people have less flexibility.

More riders needed

With the winter approaching, Shellnutt knows that feeding vulnerable people will be more important than ever. But with many of the volunteers having more rigid schedules, he is hoping new riders will join the team.
Last week 71 volunteers delivered food across Toronto, and there were even some new faces. Despite the turnout, there were still some deliveries that needed riders, so Shellnutt is hopeful more and more new faces will show up and fill the gaps.

If you’re in the Toronto area and want to learn more, visit The Bike Brigade