Agency Staff Spotlight | Racheal

By Brianna Bachan
June 24, 2024
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Racheal Ankunda at Acorn2Oak agency

Food Banks Mississauga partners with over 65 agency members working to end food insecurity in Mississauga. Staff and volunteers are dedicated to the work they do ensuring neighbours across the city have access to the food support they need.

Located off Dundas St E and Dixie Rd, Acorn2Oak is an agency that distributes food on a bi-monthly basis to families facing hardships in our community. Serving approximately 1,350 individuals and 250 households annually, Acorn2Oak ensures essential support for their well-being. 

During a recent visit, we had the opportunity to meet Racheal Ankunda, the new Pantry Coordinator. She’s been in the coordinator role for over four months but previously volunteered as a Pantry Administrator. In this new role, she engages with clients more personally than when she worked behind the scenes as an administrator.

Racheal Ankunda at Acorn2Oak agency

“When I’m back there [in the office], I don’t get to know the people; I don’t get to talk to and serve them and see what difference it’s making in their lives. But in this position, I’m able to know what they really need. I enjoy working with people because I get to know them on a personal level.”

She explained how having these face-to-face connections allows her to empathize better and understand the needs of clients who come to use the pantry services. Whether people need food, clothes, personal care products, or even connections to employment services, Racheal and her team are there – with a warm smile and a listening ear.

Besides her desire to help others, Racheal’s experience of immigrating to Canada 10 months ago as a Ugandan newcomer fuels her passion. Before arriving, she initially had some worries:

“I was worried how I would cope in a new country because I’m a refugee. So, coming from home, there’s a lot you’re running from. I was worried how I’ll be received, and how I’ll relate to people. But I got to find a community that was welcoming and people that are loving. People welcome you regardless of whatever it is you’ve been through. And they’re respectful.”

When Racheal first arrived in Canada, she became connected with a church in Mississauga. It was through this church that she discovered Acorn2Oak Youth Services and their food pantry, and began to volunteer. While there, Racheal was also able to access food support.

“When you’re in a shelter, most of the food here you can’t take because you can’t cook. So, you just take, maybe snacks, ready-to-eat food, something you can put in the microwave.”

Fortunately, Racheal’s new role came with a new title and a steady income. Recently, she’s been able to move out of the shelter and get a place where she can cook her own meals. She is grateful for the opportunities she’s been given since coming to Canada and appreciates the community and friends she’s gained through her church and Acorn2Oak. 

This community extends to the team of volunteers that Racheal works with who help with food deliveries and distribution. They support by setting up, carrying boxes, packing the pantry, and serving clients.

“When I look at the effort they put in, when I look at the fact that they come the day before to help carry this and that, I know that […] we’re working together on this. They’re not here to just be volunteers or refugees who are looking for support. I don’t look at them in that category. I see how they become free with me later and we’re chatting and laughing […].”

Racheal Ankunda at Acorn2Oak agency

In addition to the food and personal care items that Food Banks Mississauga provides to Acorn2Oak, they also offer advice and support.

“Back home, we didn’t know the difference between best before and expiry dates. So anything past the best before date, we’d just throw out. But Food Banks Mississauga helped us with all this. They’re very open to adjusting.”

When you donate to Food Banks Mississauga, you allow Racheal and her team at Acorn2Oak to continue to support their neighbours in a time of need.

“Sometimes when clients tell me what they’re going through, it makes me want to be better – even with the people I work with. I know that what I’m doing is not just a job. I know that there’s someone I’m reaching out to. It greatly impacts me. It pushes me to do better.”

Provide food support to your neighbours through our network of 65+ agency members!

Your donations mean we can provide our agency members with more than just food and personal care items, but also support and funding to help them better serve your neighbours facing food insecurity. Donate today!

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