Prakash Patel, PCP
Daily Bread Food Bank – Rexdale, ON
Prakash Patel is a payroll professional who believes that food is love.
Prakash has been in payroll for Toronto’s Daily Bread Food Bank for 12 years. His first role with the food bank was in accounting; he is now the Manager of Finance and Payroll.
“Feeding people is my hot button,” he says. “And the need for food is so great. Before this, I worked for 16 years at for-profit companies. Their goal is how to pay less to employees, charge more to customers and put money in their pockets. At Daily Bread, we put people before profit.”
In 2000, Prakash moved to Canada from India, where he had been in charge of accounting for a large manufacturer. In Canada, he was the general accountant for a media distribution company and an assistant accountant for a bakery prior to moving to Daily Bread.
At Daily Bread, his payroll responsibilities include processing a biweekly payroll for 75 salaried employees and a secondary payroll for 23 part-time people.
The food bank is a profound reflection of the economic stress our entire society is feeling. Prakash says that prior to the pandemic, the food bank had 52,000 client visits a month; in July, the number nearly tripled to 153,990. And the pinch on people’s wallets and the extra costs for grocery stores and food producers mean that donations of both cash and food to Daily Bread have been drastically reduced. “If people don’t have money to buy food for their own families, how are they going to help us?” he says.
As a result, the food bank has had to increase its own costs drastically to buy food for the 150 locations from which it feeds people each week. Prakash said the food budget has risen from $1.5-million annually to $12.5 million. However, he is grateful that corporate donors, wealthy individuals and charitable foundations have stepped in to help; donations to the food budget have doubled.
Prakash says that Daily Bread’s work goes beyond food distribution. “We don’t just provide food, we work on the root causes — housing costs, low incomes, mental health — of why people go hungry,” he says. And knows that his payroll experience and expertise is part of the solution, now more than ever. “I’m part of a mission, I’m contributing my skills and abilities by making decisions to help people in the community.”
Prakash’s belief in the power of food is also evident in his own home. “I enjoy seeing people eating at my home. When we have guests, I’m the one in charge of the kitchen.”
He also believes in the power of a positive attitude, which he says impacts every aspect of life, personally and professionally. He knows that the food bank needs this energy.
“God put me in the right place.”