Helping Women Eat Well During Covid-19

By Jessie-Lee Wallace

Cornerstone Housing for Women

Cornerstone Housing for Women is deeply grateful to the Parkdale Food Centre for their leadership, and their generous, innovative and kind-hearted support.

Cornerstone runs the only emergency shelter unique to women experiencing homelessness in Ottawa, plus four supportive housing communities, and an outreach program.

They help 200 women each day, over 600 women on a yearly basis find hope and home.

The charity has two licensed kitchens at their emergency shelter, and at their Booth St. location that cares for senior women with chronic ailments.

 

With COVID19, their locations, especially their Princeton independent living residents faced food insecurity issues. Parkdale Food Centre was there to help.

Each Cornerstone location moved to single food delivery instead of communal eating to contain the spread of the virus.  

This increase of single food delivery, and sourcing meals to locations that previously did not have a food program, became very challenging to the organization as its resources were stretched thin at the beginning of the pandemic.

The ‘Cooking for a Cause’ program led by Parkdale, helped us to give hundreds of nutritious, delicious meals, cooked by gifted restaurants and businesses to at-risk women.

The first delivery to our Princeton location was met by three eager residents that had been waiting in the lobby. One woman named Nancy* asked, “ is this for us?” She had tears in her eyes and a look of relief on her face.

Every person in Ottawa, especially our most vulnerable people deserve access to nutritious food. With Parkdale Food Centre’s help we are able to provide that to our community.

*name changed to protect privacy

When School is out Household Food Costs Soar

The Ottawa Network for Education’s (ONFE) School Breakfast Program provides more than 13,500 free, nutritious meals to students every school day across the city of Ottawa. Today, these students are not receiving this daily meal. Since the announcement of extended public-school closures, ONFE has been in contingency planning mode. They launched a strategy that has allowed them to continue supporting students and families during school closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic by working with their partners to deliver boxes of shelf stable food. We began receiving these boxes for distribution several weeks ago. They contained: 

  • Items from 3 food groups (including fresh fruit and 2% milk (tetrapack), cereal, wholegrain crackers, unsweetened applesauce, granola bars etc)
  • Peanut free

In collaboration with the Somerset West Community Health Centre, and thank to funding from Mealshare, Simon and Anna committed to adding to the nutritional content of those boxes for the 40 families for whom we would normally be providing after-school meals. Now when these boxes are delivered every Wednesday to the family’s home they also contain some Parkdale Food Centre favourites: homemade granola and muffins, cheese, yogurt, a sandwich and veggies and dip.

 

It seems like just yesterday when we had our Annual General Meeting and we were celebrating the many accomplishments of the previous year, especially those of the youth in our community.  You may recall that when I spoke as the new Chair of the Board of Directors, I mentioned that PFC would be embarking on strategic planning to provide us with a vision to take us to the years 2021/22.  After a busy summer, I wanted to take this opportunity to provide you with an update on the progress. 

We have hired a consultant to help us with this project – Urooj Qureshi.  Urooj is the Founder of Designed Centred Company and came to us recommended by CSED (Centre for Social Enterprise Development).  Some of you may have met him either at PFC or at our annual Bar-B-Que. He is working with our Strategic Planning Committee, which is comprised of Christine Earnshaw and myself from our Board of Directors, and Karen Secord, Alissa Campbell and Meagan McVeigh from the PFC staff.  

We started out in early June with a combined Board and Staff Retreat to talk about our goals and objectives and to put on paper all our ideas of where we see ourselves in three years from now. It was a busy day and we all came away filled with excitement around how we see PFC transforming and growing to meet the needs of our neighbours and growing community.  

More recently Urooj has held Focus Groups with our neighbours and volunteers, and is now interviewing many of our community partners to capture their input and to ensure that we have a broad set of opinions to consider as we develop  our Strategic Plan and Vision. After these sessions are complete we will regroup as a Committee to begin to put pen to paper.  

Strategic Planning is more than “wish lists”, it means that we (the PFC Board and Staff) will need to make choices and establish priorities.  We need to be open to new ideas and concepts, and be inclusive to our partners, community, city, volunteers and most importantly our neighbours.  Our new Strategic Plan will give us the opportunity to create a shared vision for the future of Parkdale Food Centre.  

We anticipate finishing the Strategic Plan and an Implementation Plan by the late fall.  This is an ambitious schedule but we are all committed to moving forward quickly so that all of you in the PFC Community can see our Vision and be part of our Strategic Plan and transformation.  

Should any of you have any questions or comments please don’t hesitate to contact me directly at deb@parkdalefoodcentre.org

Kind regards, 

Deb 

Chair Parkdale Food Centre,

   Board of Directors

We’re planning the next three years!

Strategic planning for the next three years at Parkdale Food Centre is underway! We are excited to be working with Design Centred Co. to create a vision and strategic direction that align with our values and our community needs. We are asking big questions about our role in the community and what the future holds. How we can be our best possible self? How can we contribute to our community in a way that honours our values of inclusiveness, participation, leadership, health and innovation? An important step in this process of strategic reflection is engaging our community and listening. Your thoughts are needed, valuable and welcome.

We will be engaging our stakeholders in numerous ways, one of which is the survey below. If you are connected to us in any way at all, please share your thoughts with us by answering the questions below. This survey should take 20-25 minutes, and your responses are completely anonymous.

Introducing…..our newest team members!

Tamara’s passion for food was ignited when she was given her first cookbook on her 10th birthday. She has been making people smile with her food ever since. She loves baking with sourdough, growing vegetables and creating vegan versions of her family’s favourite dishes. She comes to Parkdale Food Centre after years of cooking in restaurants and cafes around Ottawa. She is working as Coordinator for Thirteen: A Social Enterprise and is excited to be working towards community empowerment through food.

 

 

 

Karin Freeman is a new resident of Ottawa who came to the Parkdale Food Centre looking to build new community in a meaningful way. She is very excited to be filling in for Elle this summer as the Growing Futures Coordinator! She will help lead Solutionary Workshops in schools to engage students in solving big community problems around Food Justice. As a new, small-scale, organic farmer she believes in the positive impact of exposing people to good food and the value of sharing meals and conversations with others. Don’t be surprised if she has a little dirt under her fingernails from time-to-time!

We’re Hiring! DEADLINE EXTENDED: Sunday May 12th

We are recruiting a social justice-oriented candidate to play a lead role in a 14 month project to support transformative changes and build capacity of members of the Ottawa Community Food Partnership. The ideal candidate will be well-versed in food security issues and is at ease developing and supporting relationships across a number of stakeholder groups. The Coordinator will work both independently and in collaboration with our team, helping to drive multi-faceted projects forward. The position will be based out of the Parkdale Food Centre location with frequent travel and work at other sites throughout the network.

Responsibilities include

    • Coordinating internal communications within the partnership to ensure members are informed of member news, programming, challenges, and desired training/support.
    • Ensuring grant management and reporting occurs in a timely fashion
    • Reviewing and directing communications activities relating to the partnership
    • Ensure the deliverables of active grants are met; including:
      • Coordinating collaborative training opportunities;
      • Creating tools for collective advocacy work;
      • Identifying tools and facilitating partnerships for donations of fresh food;
      • Increasing fundraising capacity and donor communication tools; 
      • Developing partnerships to support gleaning
    • Supporting members in:
      • Developing Good Food Policies
      • Procuring infrastructure for perishable foods and processing
      • Integrating more demos/workshops/gardens

Qualifications

  • Experience in community-based/non-profit organizations with direct experience planning or coordinating program operations.
  • Demonstrated capacity to develop a network with multiple partners;
  • Demonstrated knowledge of online tools to support learning, community-building, and mobilization.
  • Keen attention to detail and strong organizational abilities.
  • Leadership and initiative, tact, diplomacy, and creativity.
  • Strong interest in community food security
  • Strong coalition-building and facilitation skills
  • A flexible and collaborative spirit
  • Excellent oral and written communication
  • G Class Drivers License and use of personal vehicle

This position is part-time (21 hours per week) compensated at an annual salary range of $40,000 – $44,000 pro-rated.

To apply please send your CV and Cover Letter to Alissa Campbell at alissa@parkdalefoodcentre.org. In your cover letter, be sure to tell us your professional goals and share with us your approach to facilitating organizational change.  The deadline to apply in Sunday May 12th

We’re hiring! Food Rescue Coordinator

Do you believe that healthy food is a human right, and that food can be a powerful tool for creating resilient, connected people and neighbourhoods? Parkdale Food Centre is looking for a dynamic team member to lead the onboarding of food donors and social service agencies to expand Foodrescue.ca throughout Ottawa, in partnership with Second Harvest.

The Food Rescue Coordinator will be responsible for engaging food donors (including retailers, restaurants and other food service businesses) and social service organisations that require food (this could range from emergency food service providers to organisations that simply want to supplement snacks) within the City of Ottawa in recovering food utilizing the Foodrescue.ca platform. The Coordinator will also train donor and receiving agency employees and volunteers on best practice use of Foodrescue.ca. We are looking for a candidate with an outgoing personality, able to communicate clearly and enthusiastically with a wide variety of people to gain support for food rescue.

Responsibilities:

  • Cultivate, nurture, and build positive relationships with food businesses and social service agencies in order to solicit participation in the Food Rescue Program
  • Visit participating donors and recipients to provide technical support, onboarding, training and problem-solving
  • Support the planning and coordination of activities for this new program
  • Collect and maintain accurate records of activities and submit monthly reports
  • Identify and evaluate risks associated with program activities and take appropriate action
  • Build ongoing relationships with agencies to further expand food rescue

Experience, skills and qualifications:

  • Experience with program management and implementation (2+ years)
  • Experience working with community social service agencies or in the non-profit sector
  • Experience building and maintaining relationships across a large cross-section of partners
  • Experience with monthly and quarterly reporting and excellent record keeping; the preferred candidate will be able to demonstrate a professional history of having done similar work.
  • Demonstration of volunteer management
  • Knowledge of Ottawa’s food, farming and restaurant community
  • Outstanding ability to work independently
  • Aptitude for technology with willingness to patiently educate others on functionality
  • Skills in providing training
  • Valid Class G driver’s license with access to vehicle that can be used for frequent travel (mileage compensated)
  • As passion for food justice and environmentalism

The following would be an asset for this position:

  • Bilingualism
  • Sales experience within the food industry
  • Safe Food Handling Certification

This position is a full-time, 8-month contract with funding until 31 December 2019. The nature of work means that the Coordinator must be able to work some flexible hours, including evenings and weekends as required. The person should be ready to start ASAP.

Compensation: $39,000 – $40,000 annually commensurate with experience

Closing Date:

Interested applicants may forward their resume and cover letter in confidence no later than Friday March 29, 2019 to work@parkdalefoodcentre.org

Parkdale Food Centre is an equal opportunity employer. We celebrate diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for all employees. We thank all applicants for their interest in this position. Only applicants considered for an interview will be contacted.

Fork Off! February 2019

Article written by Deb Abbott. Thank you to Sarah Stewart for the photos!

Have you ever tried to prepare a meal just using ingredients from a Food Bank? That’s the challenge that two of Ottawa’s finest chefs faced when they participated in the Parkdale Food Centre’s ‘Fork Off!’ Competition.  Knowing that Parkdale Food Centre stocks food from Canada’s Food Guide is helpful and means there will be fresh ingredients including fresh protein. But still –  preparing a three course restaurant style meal for judges can be pretty intimidating, especially when you normally have a fully stocked kitchen with fancy equipment and all the pots and pans that you would ever need.

Almost three  weeks ago Chef Patrick Garland from Absinthe was defending his title against Chef Tim Stock from Thyme and Again – Chef Garland had won the Fork Off twice before and was defending his title.  Both Chefs arrived early to check out the contents of the Food Bank at Parkdale Food Centre only to find meagre offerings – after a busy week of helping neighbours the shelves were low.  There were canned sardines, canned salmon, canned legumes, lentils, rice, canned tomatoes, peanut butter, baby food, and dried pasta. And in the fridge there was some fresh chicken, fish and ground beef as well an assortment of fresh fruit and vegetables plus three challenge vegetables that if they could incorporate into their dishes, they would receive bonus points. Do you know what Chinese Okra, Lila Malanga or Opal Squash are?  Not your run of the mill ingredients you find in a restaurant kitchen but ingredients that Parkdale Food Centre receives regularly from Produce Depot donations and Chef Simon from our kitchen must come up with some inventive ways to prepare.

The Chefs also  each brought along a sous chef, Chef Garland had his young nephew while Chef Stock recruited his wife who by day is a kindergarten teacher.  Each Chef had ten minutes to shop and then an hour to prepare at least three courses.  The tension was high in the kitchen as the guests crowded around to watch; imagine being less than ten feet away and watching the battle unfold. If you were at a restaurant you would pay well over $100 a person to attend such an event.  But tickets for this event go for a low price of $40 per person. And the entertainment value can’t be beaten.  Plus, before the event began  there was  amazing selection of appetizers and sweets from Thyme & Again, Urban Element, Marcie’s Cafe, Chef Simon Bell, Sarah Stewart, and Deb Abbott. Dominion City provided a wonderful selection of beer.

 

 

The judges and guests were treated to delicious dishes from both Chefs – dishes like butter chicken with pear baby food, served over sautéed kale in Opal Squash boats and Pakoras fried up just perfectly with rice flour.  Chicken stuffed with a mixture that included butternut squash baby food.  Most dishes used the Thirteen Social Enterprise spice blends adding a delicious warmth and depth of flavour.   And we received a generous donation of beautiful Olive Oil from the local Hintonburg business Aurelius Food to enhance each of the dishes.  The competition was stiff between the two Chefs but in the end Chef Stock won by a margin of just two points. What a night!

If you are looking for a great evening out, where you can eat amazing food, enjoy lots of entertainment with battling Chefs, and want to support the Parkdale Food Centre boy do we have a deal for you.  And all the money raised for this event goes towards kitchen programs. Watch out on the the Parkdale Food Centre web site and on our social media pages for the date of the next event. You won’t be disappointed!

Thanks to Deb for this article and to Sarah Stewart for the pictures below.

An epic battle between Absinthe's Pat Garland and Thyme and Again's Tim Stock

Posted by Parkdale Food Centre on Sunday, February 24, 2019

 

An international love story for the Parkdale Food Centre

I came to Canada from Australia for love in July 2014 and was getting to know my local area in the weeks after I arrived. As I was reading local news, I came across articles about this local firebrand, Karen Secord, who was saying that we shouldn’t be giving out Kraft Dinner to people because their health was worth more than that. I turned to my (then) boyfriend and said: “What is Kraft Dinner?” and the response was “It’s one lab accident away from being plastic; you don’t want to eat that!”

With that comment, I thought, I’d like to get to know this Karen Secord. I traipsed down to the old location at 89 Stonehurst and the woman with the red hair that I had seen on CTV greeted me with a huge smile. As I was being shown around, there were some people cooking in the small church kitchen. At that point, Karen was distracted (as is often the case!) and took one of the kitchen volunteers with her. I washed my hands and continued chopping onions where the other person had left off – and the rest is history.

Lunch made by Susan at 89 Stonehurst on 25 November 2014

For three months, every Tuesday and Thursday myself and two other volunteers made lunch. Soups, stews, muffins, whatever we had to work with that day – we turned it into something healthy and nutritious for the neighbours. When the time came for PFC’s big move to Rosemount Ave, Karen and (still) boyfriend and I stayed up until midnight the day after Halloween, blaring Michael Jackson and painting the walls that lovely yellow which is officially called “Harvest Gold”.

Sarah Stewart, Louise Fortier and Susan at 89 Stonehurst on 27 November, 2014

Unexpectedly, (now) husband and I moved to Washington D.C in July 2015 and I spent three years working at the Embassy of Canada. During this time, we continued to be monthly donors to PFC, and I thought about the centre a lot, especially when observing the homeless who sleep rough outside the Embassy. I thought a lot about how the services that existed for them in DC were not adequate, and how amazing it would be if they had a place like PFC.

I often look at the neighbours at PFC and think of my own parents who made the journey to Australia in the 1980s. While they have become the definition of a success story – the early years were hard. If a place like PFC had existed, perhaps it would have made it a little easier for them: somewhere where they would have been welcomed, could have shared their food and stories and become more of a part of a community. Parkdale Food Centre has been described as a ‘miracle’ by our neighbours. I don’t think that is hyperbole.

The kitchen on 2 December 2014, 4 days before move in day. What a change!

I’m now very proud to be an employee of PFC, as the Ottawa Food Network Coordinator, helping the 8 other organisations in our network bring the same joy to their communities, as we bring to ours. Together we are collaboratively supporting our members to increase the provision of fresh, healthy food, to bolster local donations to their cause, to change the notion that food-banking should be normal.

My story is an international story of love for PFC but it’s also an illustration of how a person can be at once a volunteer, a donor and an employee. Parkdale Food Centre is a place where we don’t have to fit into a box and where involvement is not tied only to one role.

Today, December 6th 2018, is the 4th year anniversary of that fateful move to Rosemount Ave, and on this occasion, I encourage those in our community to come in and visit! Stop by, have a coffee and talk to your neighbours. I also encourage you to please donate to our cause. We are only as strong as the incredible community of people who support us. At the end of each year it is always challenging to know whether we have enough to keep the lights on. Becoming a monthly donor helps us know what our cash-flow is throughout the year and empowers us to keep on doing the work we’re doing to make our community stronger and healthier, together.

Why do people come to the Parkdale Food Centre?

(From left to right): Rachel Godkin-Jackson, Lindsey Grodesky, Douce Chamukenge, Rebecca McCaffrey (Clinical Preceptor), Marjorie Kort (Clinical Instructor)

For a while we at the Parkdale Food Centre have been wondering, “why do people choose to come to PFC?” Not only that, but also, “what barriers do people actually face in eating healthy?”

These are questions we think about regularly but have had trouble answering in a more objective way.

This past semester, we were privileged to have three nurses from U of Ottawa/ Algonquin College come to the Food Centre to complete a nursing practicum course. The three nurses, Douce Chamukenge, Rachel Godkin-Jackson, Lindsey Grodesky, interviewed our neighbours at the intake desk and worked as volunteers to gather the necessary information.

As part of their final project, they have released a report with their findings. It is worth reading and can be accessed here.