Metro Toronto Convention Centre Does Its Part to Help Those in Need

June 25, 2018

Convention centers that are passionate about sustainability and helping their local communities might want to consider following the example of the Metro Toronto Convention Center, which boasts a robust food donation program that partners with events and conferences to reduce food waste by donating leftover food to local organizations dedicated to combatting hunger. 

In fiscal year 2017/2018, the Canadian facility contributed more than 90,000 kg (198,416 lbs.) of food – the equivalent in weight to 16 elephants– to Toronto organizations that support individuals in need.

According to MTCC officials, this is the most food donated by the Centre in one year in the facility’s history.

“We are very proud of the success of our donation program,” said Barry Smith, MTCC president and CEO. “It stands as a key element in our Centre’s commitment to making a positive impact in the local community.” 

Launched in May of 2009 out of the desire to not only help the less fortunate in the Toronto community but also reduce the amount of food waste produced by events at the MTCC, the facility’s food donation program works with local organizations including Daily Bread Food Bank, Second Harvest, TDSB’s Student Nutrition Program and Margaret’s Housing and Community Support Services, partners that have been instrumental in the success of the program, according to MTCC officials.

A huge key to the success of the program was to develop partners in the community who could take the food at quite short notice – both to maximize freshness of the food being donated and since storage is at a premium in our facility particularly during very busy times,” said Vivian Fleet, MTCC sustainability manager.

She continued, “Our food and item donation programs are important to our company as they not only support the local community, but they also help us maintain a high waste diversion rate and encourage employee engagement and satisfaction in their day-to-day work.”

The most substantial single-event food donation of the year resulted from the Loblaw Companies Limited conference, which took place in early 2018 and contributed 27,990 kg of food – the equivalent of 16 mid-sized cars – to Second Harvest and Daily Bread Food Bank. 

The donation to Daily Bread Food Bank alone helped support over 2,000 people in Toronto, according to MTCC officials.

In March, several local food banks and nutrition programs became the recipients of 4,969 kg (10,955 lbs.) of fresh food donations from the MTCC, a significant amount of which came from a major technology conference that donated 3,616 kg (7,972 lbs.) of food – the equivalent of approximately 12,053 meals.

“The in-kind donations Margaret’s Housing and Community Support Services receives from the Metro Toronto Convention Centre have a quantifiable impact on the physical and emotional lives of the people we serve – women, the homeless and those living with mental illness,” said Diane Walter, executive director at Margaret’s Housing and Community Support Services.

She added, “They also help us play a small part in making our planet more sustainable.” 

Besides working with food banks, the MTCC also donated almost 57,000 kg (125,663 lbs.) of reusable items including books, office supplies, clothing, totes and delegate bags, as well as furniture and centerpieces from trade shows and conferences to Habitat for Humanity, TDSB’s Arts Junktion Program and Red Door Family Shelter during the 2017/18 fiscal year.

“Our food and item donation programs are an important aspect of our facility’s commitment to making a meaningful impact in our community,” said Vince Quattrociocchi, vice president of operations at the MTCC. 

He added, “Beyond economic impact, convention centres can make a real difference in the lives of those in need by donating food and reusable items in an efficient way to local charities and we certainly encourage other convention facilities to implement these programs.”

To learn more about MTCC’s sustainable practices, go HERE.


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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. 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Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.