Free admission to club raises tons of food for needy




Businesses sometimes underestimate their client base, the people who are responsible for their existence. Late last year, Muzik owner Zlatko Starkovski summoned his staff to run a creative idea by them. Instead of patrons paying a cover charge to enter the entertainment facility located at the former Horticulture Building at Exhibition Place, why not bring a non-perishable food item and gain complimentary admission.

The staff bought into the concept and last November 18, Muzik – which hosts concerts, photo shoots and corporate and special events – collaborated with city councillor Michael Thompson and his Project Engagement organization and the Toronto Police Service on the food drive for the Daily Bread Food Bank.

“We wanted to give back to the community by leveraging our clients and patrons and also educating them about the importance of the Food Bank,” said Starkovski. “All year, we work hard and I thought it was time for us to give back with the holidays around the corner and a lot of people who are depending on a handout.

“Many of our patrons loved the idea and they brought a canned product and other non-perishable items and were able to gain admission here with that instead of paying $20 to come in. We received about 1,000 pounds of food every week and we extended the deadline to January 15 because of the success of the project,”

The drive raised 15,000 pounds of non-perishable items that were handed over last week to Daily Bread Food Bank chair Gail Nyberg.

“We recognize there is a great need out there and through our relationship with Muzik, we were able to get this project up and going,” said Thompson, who was accompanied by Etobicoke-Lakeshore councillor Mark Grimes who is a member of Exhibition Place board of governors.

“These are the kinds of things we are going to be doing more of so that we can create more sustainability and more assurance that there is food for needy Torontonians. When that occurs, all the other pieces like education will fall into place. When you have healthy and happy people, the focus will not be on where the next meal is coming from and when. This is an extensive project to really try and make a difference and to create opportunities to actually help and partner with all sorts of folks.”

Thompson, the Toronto Police Service Board vice-chair, and businessman Vince Gasparro established Project Engagement that pack and deliver food hampers to needy families in the city during the Christmas holidays.

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