We are the Board of Directors for the Parkdale Food Centre. There was a recent interview by one of our local news programs about our approach to food at the Parkdale Food Centre. It has generated quite a lot of feedback and commentary within our community, as well as across the city and at the national level. You may have seen the interview during your nightly news broadcast, heard about it on the radio or read about it online.
The responses we have received from all across the country have been both positive and negative and we welcome that dialogue. We feel it would be helpful to share some information about our centre, why we do what we do, and why we’re so focused on presenting healthy food options to our clients.
We accept all donations, except expired, opened or badly dented containers. Our preference is for healthy wholesome foods and offer suggestions on our Good Food list. We receive generous support from the Ottawa Food Bank (OFB) and apologize for any confusion between our statements and the Ottawa Food Bank. The OFB is our single largest supplier of donated food and we could not do what we do without their continued support. We also heavily rely on our local community partners, including businesses, Churches, schools and individuals for food or financial donations.
We understand that some may have taken offence at how the message of this interview was described and delivered, seeing it as a criticism of people’s personal choices versus an attempt to highlight an important issue on the lack of food choice and security. That was not the intent. A single headline should not define the Centre or the excellent work of our staff and many volunteers. Our approach and beliefs are driven by the needs of our clients and donors who we talk a little more about, below.
At our core, we are driven by two obligations, one to our donors and one to those who rely on the Centre:
We have an obligation to our donors, those who support the Centre through monetary, service and food donations to spend the money we receive wisely, getting the best value while also offering the highest quality of food that we can.
We also have an obligation to those who rely on the Centre to provide them with healthy and nutritional food options. Many, given their financial constraints, struggle to purchase nutritional food, particularly as our centre is in an area of the city that is part of a food desert, with few options for affordable fresh produce and no large grocery stores. Many who rely on the Centre do not have the power to choose what to eat and unhealthy foods often make up the core of their daily diet rather than being just an occasional meal or a ‘treat’.
These two obligations are at the heart of how we operate, and resonate with both our donors and our clients. We are passionate about our work and believe in the power of healthy food to transform people’s lives and foster healthier, more connected communities. Our Crock Pot Cooking Classes, cooking workshops, communal meals and support of the Good Food Box are a few examples of how we are working, not just to stock shelves, but to build knowledge, skills and opportunities for the people who visit our Centre. Many local restaurants and chefs lead our cooking workshops, sharing their knowledge in cooking healthy and nutritional meals while providing our clients with the encouragement and skills for cooking meals at home. Our clients have also welcomed this approach to healthy eating and are now regular volunteers at the Centre and a number of them now assist and lead the activities. And probably the most important change we have seen has been the feedback from our clients on their improved health and well-being.
If you are interested in additional information about the Parkdale Food Centre please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
– The Parkdale Food Centre Board of Directors