2017 in Review

Did you miss what we were up to in 2017?

Here are some highlights from 2017 (made possible by generous friends and donors)

*Growing Futures impacted 100’s of children, educators and businesses across the city by teaching food and financial literacy, entrepreneurship and community building.
www.growingfutures.ca

*We offered part-time steady employment to five neighbours and 3 youth.

*We provided supervised school placements to four post-secondary students interested in food justice.

*We introduced 24 low income youth to entrepreneurship through 13SocEnt.
www.13socent.ca

*We were honoured to be selected to receive both the United Way Community Builder of the Year “From Poverty to Possibility” Award, and the Canadian Volunteer Award for Social Innovation in Ontario.

*We hosted over 80 cooking workshops with a wide variety of Ottawa chefs, home cooks and neighbours leading them.

*We helped our neighbours find housing, dental care, furniture, clothing, veterinary care and so much more!

*Dozens of groups from government departments chose preparing food for their neighbours in PFC’s kitchen as a team-building exercise. We happily distributed the fresh food to those in need.

*We cooked two meals each week for the children in SWCHC’s after school program and one hearty snack for the “Place to Be” drop in.

*With the help of St. Lawrence Employment Centre we found a job for anyone who asked for help.

*To address concern that the Chinese Senior’s lunch might be cancelled we offered to provide the ingredients needed to ensure a healthy meal and social outing could be provided.

*PFC became a weekly stop for Market Mobile. Now everyone has regular access to fresh food at wholesale prices. Our staff and volunteers helped to make this possible.

*By offering our neighbours as many fruits and vegetables as they need we distributed over 250 boxes of bananas, 150 boxes of apples, about 1,500 bags
of potatoes, and 150 boxes of oranges.

…and there is so much more!

In 2018 we will be working with Youth Now Farm to offer more young adults, with barriers to employment, the opportunity to acquire the skills needed to find and retain a job. We are also excited to have been granted funds to hire an employee to help the organizations in the Community Food Network to better address issues around food justice.

Thank you for helping us create a warm, healthy community hub where everyone is welcomed and valued.

Come visit us in 2018. We’d love to show you around!

Happy New Year!

How do you get kids to care about food and health problems in their neighbourhood?

Since the beginning of 2017, the Parkdale Food Centre has been offering (funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation) a food justice program for children in grades 4-6.

The goals of the program are to:

  1. Inspire students to understand the complex and interconnected problems of poverty, health and food insecurity in their neighbourhood.
  2. Engage students in understanding the problems being addressed by inviting them to bring forth their own ideas and opinions.
  3. Equip students to be “solutionaries” in their communities by providing entry points for action.

The program has seen great success and has attracted interest from all over the city. Some children who attend the program have become regular volunteers at the food centre and have a better awareness of how they can contribute to solving problems in their communities.

Read the full report here.

What do you see in this photo?

What do you see when you look at this photo? Bowls of steaming Salmon Chowder? Lunch? The hands of a child? Clean kitchen counters?  

When I see this photo I see #kindness and #caring – specifically the hands of #kindness and #caring.  

 

These hands belong to a young person who came to the Parkdale Food Centre to volunteer for a day during his School Holiday break.  He loves to cook, he idolizes Simon Bell the Kitchen Manager at Parkdale Food Centre, he loves to learn new things – like how to make biscuits or how to plate and present delicious meals to the many neighbours who need a hot meal on a very cold Ottawa day.  

On this very cold day he walked to and from the Parkdale Food Centre to volunteer his help because he cares and has a heart full of kindness towards the neighbours in his Community. He could have easily stayed home to play video games, watch TV or just hang out with his friends.  Instead he wanted to volunteer at Parkdale Food Centre and be part of a team in the kitchen giving back to the community.  He was there on Wednesday during one of the weekly Collective Kitchen workshops where neighbours gather and learn how to make delicious wholesome foods.  I was making Salmon Chowder and he helped me washing mounds of celery, and then peeling and cleaning big bowls of potatoes and carrots. He worked with Simon to produce the most delicious light and fluffy biscuits for lunch.  And after serving and sharing lunch with the neighbours he went back to peeling and cleaning carrots and potatoes.  That is what #kindness and #caring is all about.  That is what giving back to your community is all about.  That is why I was attracted to the Parkdale Food Centre – it’s because of the #kindness and #caring that is a big part of the everyday activities at Parkdale Food Centre.  

I started out supporting Parkdale Food Centre by donating money to the Thirteen Social Enterprise for their bus tickets; then I became part of the Thirteen Social Enterprise team preparing their weekly lunches and often taking them to the Markets to sell their products. All the while being exposed to how much Parkdale Food Centre does for their community; so it was just a natural decision to become a monthly donor.  Now I also help out every Wednesday with kitchen work and sometimes I help teach neighbours new skills.   

Don’t get me wrong, sure I am helping Parkdale Food Centre both financially and by volunteering in the kitchen, but this organization has given me back so much more.  I have a sense of community once again – something that I lost after I retired from a busy job as an Executive in the Government of Canada.  From the very first time I became involved with Parkdale Food Centre I felt this sense of being part of a larger community that gives back and does so much for their neighbours who, for whatever the reason, need extra support.  The #kindness and #caring atmosphere that I’m exposed to every time I enter Parkdale Food Centre makes me happy – I’m happy to know that my financial donations are turned around back to the local community to make the lives of the neighbours better. I’m happy that Parkdale Food Centre has provided an environment that encourages youth to be part of the community of giving back. The Youth today will be our future leaders and future organizers at Food Centres like Parkdale – I know that my financial contributions to Parkdale will ensure that the Youth continue to be involved and that the neighbours who need that little bit of extra support can continue to receive it.

I’m oh so happy to be part of this community of #kindness and #caring.  

Article by Deb Abbott.

This report keeps us up at night

Our friends at Somerset West Community Health just released a report on Rooming Houses in Ottawa. The statistics are shocking:

  • 70% of rooming house residents use food banks
  • 82% of residents report bed bugs
  • residents report issues with pests, lack of garbage removal, aggression from landlords, substance abuse problems and more

Our catchment area contains 13 rooming houses which means that a lot of our neighbours are suffering.

Read the whole report here.

Help your neighbours this holiday season

As the holiday season and the end of the year approaches, we’re often asked about ways people can help their neighbours. Donations make an enormous difference to our programs and the support that we are able to offer the more than 750 people we help each month.

Set up a Monthly Donation

Recurring monthly donations are the best way to support the Food Centre. These regular donations help us plan accurately for the future and guarantee a minimum amount of support every month. You can set up a recurring donation here.

Make a One Time Donation

Our online Reverse Food Truck provides a variety of options for sponsorship and donations, from sponsoring a neighbour for a set period of time, giving a one time donation of the things we’re most in need of, supporting a specific program, or just simply helping out. You can make a one time donation here.

Donate in person

We’re always happy to welcome visitors to the Centre, and happily accept donations of non-perishable food, preferably items from our Good Food List, or even fresh produce. We also post weekly updates about our most needed supplies on Twitter, Facebook, and instagram, so you can find out what is running low, or is in the most demand as our #PFCMostNeeded.

Contribute to our annual Soup & Socks campaign

Each year, we collect warm socks for men, women, and children, and little extras like coffee, hot chocolate, hats, mittens, and Giant Tiger gift cards to distribute to our neighbours throughout December. All of these things can be dropped off at the Centre during our regular operating hours. If you would prefer to donate financially to this campaign, please click here.

Sponsor a Family for the Holidays

We have many families that need extra help over the holidays and we now offer a matching service. You fill out this form indicating the size of family you’d like to help and our Secret Holiday Task Force will match you up with a family in need.

Should I donate my excess Halloween candy?

This morning it begins.

First a small bag of tootsie roll lollipops – clearly hitting the low mark on the candy desirability spectrum. Then a box of individually packaged Pringle chips. And more. And more.

Every year, on November 1st, food banks prepare for the influx of sugary treats parents around the country have deemed “too much” for their own kids – but a sweet treat for others! Others who likely also trick-or-treated for blocks and blocks. Newsflash: people who use a food bank are regular real-life in-the-flesh people. People who share the same concerns as you.

I was preparing to send out a reminder to folks about thinking twice before donating their hallowe’en candy to their local food bank, including to us at PFC. I did a quick google search to look for an article to point to, to enhance my teeny 140-character-limited appeal; I searched: “don’t donate your halloween candy to the food bank.” I did a double-take at the results.

“Sweet Ways to Donate Your Halloween Haul to Those in Need..” from MommyPoppins. (Which I actually started reading until the line: “perhaps the best thing to do with Halloween candy is donate it. That way your kids can enjoy a truly special treat: The feeling of helping others.”)

“How to donate Halloween candy to a good cause” – TODAY.com

And perhaps the most flabbergasting: “12 Ways to “Give-Back” Hallowe’en Candy” from the San Diego Family Magazine.

 

Once on page 2 or 3 there were a few articles that were refreshingly reflective: “It strikes me as somewhat of a double standard to get rid of your kids’ candy in the interest of good health, only to donate it to disadvantaged kids who may already have a poor diet and dental health” said Elizabeth Withey in the Edmonton Journal.

Thank you Elizabeth. We agree. Parkdale Food Centre is located in the Somerset West Community Health Centre – an intentional co-location that addresses the inextricable links between poverty and health. A partnership that recognizes that people living with low-income have poorer health and people facing health challenges are at a greater risk of falling into poverty, creating a cycle that is difficult to escape. So please don’t bring us your halloween candy – if your kids don’t want it, chances are your neighbour’s kids don’t want it either.

So what to do with those tootsie roll lollipops then???

We hear Wellington Village Orthodontics will buy-back your candy: Drop off your candy at 175 Holland Ave before 5pm tonight, on November 1st, and get $1 back for every pound. Plus be entered in a draw for a… Waterpik and Oral B Rechargeable Toothbrush!!!! We hear they will also make a donation to the Ottawa Children’s Aid Foundation for every candy donation. Now that’s how we #scarehunger.

Alissa Campbell

Beyond the street (2017 Campaign)

 

 

Have you ever noticed how the businesses along Wellington and Holland get approached all the time for help & donations?  It’s easy for people to walk in and start a conversation.  We have been trying to figure out how to reach out to the 2nd floor professional businesses in our neighbourhood.  Thanks to KWC Architectswe are starting a new challenge.  They are going to help us reach out to fellow “above” the street businesses in our neighbourhood.  

To start us off, they have donated an amazing $5,000 to help us reduce our current $40,000 2017 operational shortfall.  

They have been involved with us for several years including helping us layout our space when we first moved in to 30 Rosemount. KWC Architects “believes in the value of strong and diverse neighbourhoods and communities. The Parkdale Food Centre is a vibrant hub that engages and supports all members of our community through their wide range of services and opportunities. As a local business we believe in the value that PFC brings to the health and well-being of our neighbourhood. We encourage other local businesses to support PFC so we can continue to have this amazing resource!”

Could your business support us this holiday season and help us balance our books by the end of December.  Contact us if you have an idea or want information on how other businesses have helped.  

Could you engage your employees or customers to help you make a contribution?  We’d love to have your business added to our PFC Patrons wall for all contributions above $3000.

Our neighbourhood is lucky that we have so many professionals that call it home and a great place to work.  Help us help your neighbours.

Why I long for December 31st

It’s not what you think.

It’s not New Year’s Eve.  It’s the daywhen I know, as Chair of PFC’s Fundraising Committee, if we’ve made our budget for the year.  Last year was the best and we knew a bit before the 31st that we’d “made it”.

Like most charities, we get most of our donations in the month of December. It’s understandable since many folks only get around to looking at tax-eligible donations at year-end.  I get it, it’s just stressful! Our fundraising committee (which is an awesome and eclectic group including a farmer, a pastor, a retired nurse, an events planner, a lawyer, and a mortgage broker amongst others) has been dreaming up for the last 2 years how we can convert more people to being monthly donors.  This gives us a way to feel comfortable we will achieve our budget, without waiting for December 31 st each year.

Then it came to us.

What could be a stronger visual than 100 of our neighbours joining together to help 100 of our neighbours receive amazing fresh food, a welcoming place to visit, and wonderful programs put on by a kick butt group of staff and volunteers?

Our #100NEIGHBOURSSTRONG campaign was born.

We sent off our ideas to the amazing Jennifer Kwong who volunteers her time as our graphic designer. (Follow her on Instagram).  When we asked some of our regular local business supporters to help by putting up red balloons and a poster and giving out postcards, each and every one of them said yes.

If you’ve never visited the Parkdale Food Centre, there are times when it’s so busy I have to step around folks to drop off whatever I’m popping in to get from the office or dropping off.  I often say hello and recognize faces.  I’ve been lucky enough to learn many names.  The resilience and ability of every visitor to PFC, to share a smile, keeps us never stopping in our quest to do more.

Whenever you visit PFC you can’t help but feel something.  It’s warmth and hope and there is usually some amazing smell coming out of the Don Flynn Community Kitchen.  Our talented chefs arrive each day not knowing what they will be cooking.  It might be a load of Hidden Harvest apples or Chef Pat Garland from Absinthe might have just dropped off a huge amount of ground beef.  No matter the ingredients, their talent and creativity always culminate in a beautifully plated delicious meal.

Whenever I waver about asking my friends to donate more or worry we are asking too much of our community, I  remember one boy.  He was about the same age as my son.  He was shy at first but we spent a bit of time as I went around shopping with him and his mom and sisters on a Food Bank day
when Karen wanted me to actually learn what it was like to use the Food Bank program.  He was helping his mom load their bags carefully so the heavy items weren’t all in one bag.  He knew he’d be helping to carry it home.  He was also helping to keep his boisterous little sisters in order since they were having fun (as kids should be!).  He was so polite.  I really wanted to ask for a hug at the end since I felt such a connection with him.  I was too shy to ask.

I am not too shy to ask you to consider becoming a monthly donor.  We currently have all types of monthly donors.  One is a new grad who donates 2 cartons of eggs on our Shopify Reverse Food Truck, for $8/month.  One is my friend’s parent who gives $100 per month.  Each and every one is unique.

For anyone on the fence and wondering about where the money is going:

It’s going to food.

We spend on average $10,000 a month in groceries on top of the truck-load of donations we get each Tuesday fr

om the Ottawa Food Bank and our neighbourhood retailers.

It’s going to staff.

A dedicated small group of compassionate individuals committed everyday to
helping provide not only food, but a smile and a set of ears to listen to how people are doing. I’ve got to go and turn my monthly donation back on, I’d “paused” it while I was on a work hiatus – but now it’s time to turn it back on. This community has it in them to be #100NEIGHBOURSSTRONG.

Join us and help us get to be #100NEIGHBOURSSTRONG by December 31st.

Learn more about our #100NEIGHBOURSSTRONG campaign here.

Kind Regards,

Hilary

Dovercourt WAVE Program runs their own Growing Futures Franchise

One of the projects of the Parkdale Food Centre is Growing Futures, a social enterprise that uses innovative growing systems to produce, market and sell fresh produce.

One of the participants is the Dovercourt WAVE Program, an autism program for adults. They have been running a franchise for the last seven months and here is what they have to say:

My favourite part about working the plants thus far, has been watching the group gain ownership of something that they have become passionate about. They really enjoy watering the plants and making sure the PH levels are good so that the plants are getting the right nutrients. They really enjoy when it is time to harvest- Weighing the lettuce, sorting through the good lettuce and the bad lettuce and then selling them at Dovercourt mostly to the Gold Club Members has been the highlight. They have made meaningful relationships with some of the clients and we now have returning clients every week who look forward to seeing us!
– Kelsey Saunderson, Supervisor

“I liked giving them water and watching them grow”
– Gabriel, Participant
“I worked with the plants and found it very relaxing. It was good to work with other apprentices”
-Jessie, Participant

Annual BBQ!

Written by: Kristen (Algonquin College Business Student)

The Friday before last, Food Centre hosted their annual summertime barbecue. As a first-time PFC barbecue-goer, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but was greeted with pleasant surprises. It turns out that` everyone associated with the PFC is somehow friendlier than the last, and the burgers have so many condiment options, that I definitely shared some relish with my shirt.

I quickly learned that the BBQ was hardly about the food, though—people from all over Ottawa came together to connect, and some brave souls (I’m looking at you, Karen!) also danced together to the sound of De Jazz Guys. In case dancing and food weren’t enough to bring people together, there was also a play area for the kids—complete with foam building blocksthat were also kind of fun for us adults, too.

Oh! I almost forgot to mention Merry Dairy dropped by to grace us all with free soft cones and I’m pretty sure some of us snuck seconds. The sunshine cooperated and there was a special appearance by the Shoe Bank, who had an impressive selection of runners, boots, and other footwear.

All in all, my take-away from the PFC BBQ was that it’s so much more than a barbecue. It was a place for community to grow and connect with each other. If you have the chance, drop by PFC or Somerset West to see all the great things they do.

Note from Food Centre: “Throughout the year we have dozens of requests from students who are eager to have a volunteer experience. We welcome this! It is a wonderful opportunity to engage them in conversations about food charity and a system that often promotes, rather challenges, growing economic inequality. This guest blog was written by an Algonquin College business student. We hope that Kristen and her classmates came away with a better understanding of the important role compassion and advocacy play in the work we do.”