The Ottawa Food Bank gears up for the Holiday Giving Campaign


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Visits to food banks in the Ottawa Food Bank network increased nearly 7% in October from what was already a record high in March, and “the need remains very high.

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“The holidays are a stressful time for many people who are food insecure,” Alex Noren, acting director of communications for the Ottawa Food Bank, said in an email.

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“One-third of clients accessing food support programs in Ottawa are children. Many families share with us anecdotally that this can be a difficult time due to choices between basic necessities, such as food, fuel and housing costs, and celebration expenses.

The upcoming holidays are « extremely important » for food and fundraising, according to the food bank, which receives about 60% of its financial and in-kind food donations each year in November and December.

This year’s program includes several traditional events returning to « normal » operation following previous disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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This holiday season’s push begins Thursday with the CTV Morning Live Holiday Helper Food Drive (Dec. 1) and holiday food drive for organizations such as sports teams, faith communities and venues. of work (Dec. 1-26), followed by tthe OC Transpo/Loblaw Christmas Food Drive (December 3), the Mayor’s Annual Christmas Celebration (December 3) and the CBC Project Give (December 9).

Last year, although mostly held virtually, the food bank events brought in $850,000 and nearly £250,000 in food donations.

“We know that many people in our communities go without meals to make ends meet,” says Noren. « Food budgets are the easiest to cut as the cost of basic necessities continues to rise. »

Food bank “most needed” non-perishables include rice; pasta and pasta sauce; canned proteins like meat and fish; canned fruit, fruit cups in water or 100% fruit juice; canned vegetables, stew or chili; nut butters; and layers.

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During the holiday season, Noren adds, the food bank gets an influx of desserts and sugary treats, but they still need healthy snacks to hand out during the winter, like unsweetened applesauce/fruit sauce; long-life milk; whole grain; instant oatmeal mini packs; dried fruits (raisins, apricots, dates); tuna snacks, hummus, chicken (stable); and whole grain crackers and granola bars.

Despite the inflationary pressure on food prices in general, the food bank does not prioritize cash over donated food, and vice versa. Thanks to food industry partners and bulk purchasing agreements, Noren says, he can convert every donated dollar into about $5 worth of purchased food.

“We use these types of donations to buy perishable items like lean protein, cheese, yogurt, milk, fresh fruits and vegetables, and more,” Noreau explains.

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The food bank plans to move in 2023 from its current location on Michael Street to a larger building on Bantree Street with greater food storage equipment.

“Ottawa is experiencing a food insecurity crisis and a sustained response is needed,” writes Noren.

As of Tuesday, only a small number of 168 OC Transpo/Loblaw Christmas food drive volunteer slots remained open. Details were available on the registration portal of the Ottawa Food Bank website.

Last year, 221 groups signed up for the Holiday Food Drive initiative.

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