Crowd-sourcing to get our Reverse Food Truck on the road!

10592667_10152581256625310_4583544175880260127_nOur dream at PFC is to have our own leased van. Many of our neighbours-in-need have mobility issues and would not receive food assistance without transportation to/from the Centre from our staff and volunteers . This becomes particularly essential during the winter. Staff and volunteers have also been using their own vehicles to collect large food donations, frequently from distant suburban or rural locations. In both cases, this results in poor or unreliable access to the Centre for our neighbours-in-need and food donors alike and makes program planning as well as delivery difficult.

We are very excited that the Taggart Parkes Foundation has given us a 3 year commitment to lease a van for PFC that would allow us to pick up our clients, take them to the Centre and back home again, as well as transport large food donations coming from a distance. We are also planning to potentially share the van with neighbouring food banks for similar purposes.

This van is also going to be a “reverse food truck,” accepting food donations at community events. This clever concept has already met with great success in a number of cities, and we had an opportunity this past summer to try this experiment ourselves with a food truck generously loaned by our community partner, Hintonburger. Based on the incredible response, we are now keen to manage our own reverse food truck. A van would make this possible and gives us a “vehicle” to collect community donations and engage the public about community food needs.

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Now we need to raise the money to get this van on the road. We aren’t able to use the money donated to us for food to fund this project, so we have added some items to our Reverse Food Truck online in the hopes of raising the money we need through specific donations. Unless we can fund a $6,000 gap, we won’t be able to move forward with this project. The levels are:

Friend            $25
Supporter    $100
Patron           $250 – name on the van (if you wish!)
Sponsor        $500 – name and logo on the van (if you wish!)

If you could help us get this truck on the road we know it would make a difference to our neighbours in need. Check out the Reverse Food Truck online to donate at one of the levels above, and help raise enough money to cover the ongoing costs of the van.

Update [January 23, 2015] : WOW! After Karen spoke on CBC Ottawa Morning radio on January 22 to talk about our need to raise $6,000 to get the truck on the road, something amazing happened. That very morning a young local neighbourhood family called her up and then delivered a cheque for the entire amount in the afternoon.  The Board met that evening and we are full steam ahead and very grateful to be able to move forward with the truck immediately.  It will be popping up at events and being shared with other local organizations just as soon as we can order it and get it on the road.  This is wonderful news for our neighbours in need with mobility issues.  Receiving the entire amount we needed in less than 24 hours from the launch of the appeal is still causing us to stop and smile.  What a wonderfully generous community we live in!

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30 Rosemount | A New Space and a Grand Opening Celebration!

As the Chairman of the Board, I had the great privilege to welcome a great crowd of our donors, supporters, and volunteers at the Grand Opening of Parkdale Food Center on Monday, in our new home at 30 Rosemount.

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The first time I heard the street name 30 Rosemount was about a year ago, and I did not know exactly where it was or what was there. What a difference a year makes! There is no doubt there were number of us here on Monday that now know every square inch of the lower level of 30 Rosemount.

For all of us involved in building and creating this new space, it has been a most interesting and rewarding experience. It is not often that an organization has an opportunity to start fresh with a completely open space and the ability to design what you want from scratch.

When we look back at a few of the steps that led us here today, I think about:

  • The process of deciding — was this the right move for us and more importantly was it the right move to support our neighbours and would it be beneficial to everyone?
  • Working through the financing which in the beginning seemed dubious at best
  • Creating a vision of the space. What would it look like and how would it function?
  • Working with Somerset West Community Health Center, who were supportive of our goals and helped us whenever and wherever they could
  • The people who came forward to offer their time, expertise, services, materials and advice that kept the project moving forward. In many cases, these were free or at cost
  • Obtaining a Trillium Fund grant to run programs and hire staff for the new space
  • And, to our staff, volunteers, neighbours and board members who gave willingly of their time to be part of this journey: I simply cannot thank you enough

I would like to stress how important it is to be in the same building as this health center, so our neighbours can be better supported by the full range of health care services that are all under the same roof.

We will continue to foster this relationship with SWCHC to make it a better community for everyone.

Over the coming months we are anxious to develop more programs to use this beautiful space to its full potential. Our neighbours inspire us to keep fundraising to give them more opportunities like the Cooking Workshops, Collective Kitchen and the gleaning project, and of course to provide better quality food.

donor wallIn the hallway by our entrance, you will notice our Patron Donor Wall. These are individuals or companies who have made donations above $3000 or partnered with us to run major programs. Please take a moment when you visit to check out these amazing supporters of the PFC.

The Community and Space Builders Plaque recognizes companies and individuals who have made a special contribution through both time and money to the renovation of our space and they are:

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On site at our grand opening to join us from these two companies were Martin Chenier from Brigil Homes and Jeff Hooper, Owner, Keller Williams Ottawa Realty. We were also joined by Mayor Jim Watson, MPP Yasir Naqvi, MP Paul Dewar, Kitchissippi Ward Councillor Jeff Leiper, members of our board, and a great number of friends, supporters and our neighbours, who did a wonderful job preparing and sharing food they created in our new kitchen.

Thank you all for your incredible support and for being part of this next step for the PFC. This project would not have occurred without significant financial assistance from Brigil Homes and Keller Williams Foundation for Giving – their support paid for most of the renovations, furniture and other start-up costs.

photo (1)Once again, for those who joined us, thank you for taking the time to make the day so special for us. We are excited about the future and the opportunities that this space will provide for our neighbours.

Don Flynn
Chairman of the Board, Parkdale Food Centre

Our Good Food Box // Sponsoring a Neighbour

Groceries can be expensive and this is often the reason why people come to Parkdale Food Centre. Statistics Canada has indicated that the price of fresh vegetables from January to May of 2014 increased by 5.3% and that the cost of meat increased by 7.5% compared to 2.6% and 1.0% for the same products for the same period of time in 2013. That’s a lot.

To help alleviate the stress on our neighbours who want to cook with fresh fruits and vegetables, we’re asking people to sponsor a Good Food Box for a neighbour in need.

The Good Food Box is a non-profit, community based initiative that allows people to buy fresh fruits and vegetables at wholesale prices. It’s open to everyone in our community! Best of all, for as little as $10 you can provide almost a weeks’ worth of vegetables for a single person, or for just $20, buy a big box for a family. The prices are competitive and the produce is mostly local, seasonal and very fresh. You can learn more about the Good Food Box on their website: http://www.ottawagoodfoodbox.ca/?page_id=14.

If you don’t have time to volunteer with the PFC, or have difficulty donating fresh produce, this is an excellent way to make a big difference to someone or a family in need.

There are a two easy ways to sponsor Good Food Boxes:

  1. Donate online through our reverse food truck at http://parkdalefood.reversefoodtruck.ca – you’ll get your tax receipt upon payment. There are options for single month or full year commitments.
  2. Bring a cheque to PFC – please make sure you put the cheque in an envelope with the amount on it clearly stated. Provide your full address so we can issue you a tax receipt.

Every box counts and goes to one of our neighbours who really appreciate it. This is a great way to support local farmers, a local organisation, and a neighbour in need! We currently have a waiting list of people hoping to be sponsored. Since our main food that we give out is emergency food for 3-4 days, adding a Good Food Box on top of a regular order allows people to make it last throughout the month.

PFC 2014 Facts : By the Numbers

As a way to summarize 2014, we wanted to share some facts with you all. It’s been a busy year for us with many changes, and we’re optimistic that in 2015 we can continue to find more ways to help our neighbours.

20 the number of recurring monthly donors we are lucky to have. We appreciate each one of them that give between $10 and $200 each month. We started 2014 with 3 so we are really proud of that increase!

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the average number of visits per month. We anticipate helping 8600 by the end of 2014. That’s a lot of eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, fruit, vegetables and meat!

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items purchased since launching our Online Reverse Food truck!! People love being able to choose the exact items they want to donate! Have you seen it yet? http://parkdalefood.reversefoodtruck.ca/

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the number of cooking workshops held in 2014 with and average of 15 people each session. This means we had more than 450 people engaged in learning to cook! The area’s best chefs come by and volunteer to cook side by side with our neighbours. After everyone’s hard work, all sit down communally to eat. Then our neighbours go home with the ingredients to the recipe to replicate it at home. People are rediscovering a love of cooking!

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the number of events held by or for us during 2014! We are still finding people who don’t know about us! Our role model is always Mayor Jim Watson, who probably does that many events in just a week, but for us we are proud we’ve popped up so many different places to raise awareness to hunger and the need in our little neighbourhood.

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the % increase in paid part-time staff. Thanks to the Ontario Trillium Foundation we now have 2!!

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the number of visits from children this year

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the number of PFC Patrons on our soon to be unveiled Donor Wall. All have given us tremendous support! It truly takes a village and our patrons allow us to launch new programs, support our goals,and reach more neighbours. We couldn’t run our operations without them.

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the number of editions of our newsletter, The Fresh Press that have come out this year. Have you signed up yet? Our next edition comes out in January – don’t miss it! You can sign up to the right of this post.

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the number of moves during the year to a new location! We are truly feeling like 30 Rosemount is a perfect fit for us. Come and visit us so you can see the good work and good spirits in action. We’d be happy to give you a tour.

Happy Birthday Beyond the Pale!

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Friends and fans turned out en masse at the Orange Gallery to celebrate Beyond the Pale’s 2nd Birthday! Rob, Shane and Al had a full crew on hand pouring BTP pints while DJ Devin Atherton spun some sweet 80’s vinyl and kept the dance floor jumping “all night long”! Oh yes, Mr. Lionel Ritchie was in the house.

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Union 613 dished out a Fritos flavor fiesta and Holland’s Cake and Shake fogged things up with some beer-spiked ice rocks (dry ice included!) and one deliciously decadent birthday cake!

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The Orange Gallery provided the ideal space for a lively and energetic celebration. Work by local artists created plenty of opportunities for interaction and conversation and the original hardwood floors were the perfect platform for a night of non-stop revelry.

Beyond the Pale has been a dedicated supporter of the Parkdale Food Centre from the very beginning and this night was no exception. The event raised $2100 for the Centre’s healthy food programs for our neighbours in need.

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Thank you to Beyond the Pale, The Orange Gallery, Union 613 and Holland’s Cake and Shake for being such great community partners and friends. We can’t wait for Birthday # 3!

Exciting News :: Donation Matching until December 31st!

Among our many firsts this year is this exciting (and extremely generous) news: a PFC patron, who wishes to remain anonymous, has offered to match all cash, cheque and online donations to the PFC made between December 4th and December 31st, dollar for dollar to a maximum of $10,000!!!

This is a BIG deal for us. We’re always thankful for the generous support of our community, and donations go a long way towards supporting our neighbours in need. If you are considering making a donation during the holiday season, this is a great time to do it.

Can we reach that $10,000 goal? Help us maximize this generous match!

To donate, you can:

The Art of Sharing

On a frosty November night last week, Cindy Scott and Roger Bryanton opened their home to friends and neighbours, artists and art lovers at their first “Pop Up” Living Room Art Show in support of the Parkdale Food Centre. Featuring local artists Christopher Griffin and Nicole Allen, the evening was a relaxed and intimate gathering where guests could mingle, meet the artists and learn more about their work.

The evening featured works from Christopher Griffin’s recent collections, including a colorful array of hypnotic nudes, paintings from his ‘Portage’ and ‘Panama’ series and a beautiful caribou etched in cement.

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Christopher Griffin’s hypnotic nudes / Christopher Griffin and a piece from his recent Portage Series

Nicole Allen’s work included vibrant florals, forest scenes and her whimsical series of “cheeky birds”, which were snapped up faster than you can say “chickadee”!

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Nicole Allen’s vibrant canvases, Cheeky Birds, and bold blooms

While the atmosphere was relaxed, the buying was brisk! Christopher’s nudes were a hot item for pre-holiday shoppers while far-flung friends called in on Skype to purchase several of Nicole’s colourful canvases. The event raised over $2200 for the Centre.

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Guests mingle at ‘Pop Up’ Gallery

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PFC Board Member Hilary McVey visits with Sue Ann Wright – happy new owner of one of Christopher’s paintings

Karen Secord and Hilary McVey were on hand to mingle with guests and share more information on the Centre’s upcoming move to 30 Rosemount Avenue and its plans for 2015. With the holidays just around the corner, the evening was the perfect way to celebrate the spirit of the season. Thanks to all of the art lovers who came out to lend their support and special thanks to Cindy, Roger, Christopher and Nicole for their enthusiasm and generosity.

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Sincere thanks to Cindy Scott, Nicole Allen and Christopher Griffin for your creativity and generosity

Thank you to our holiday campaign volunteers!

A heartfelt thank you to all our elves!  This year’s holiday postcards have been delivered!

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It took a small army of volunteers, board members, teenagers, friends, senior citizens, neighbours who use PFC, and families delivering with kids in tow, to deliver this year’s batch of red postcards in support of our Holiday Giving Campaign out into Kitchissippi!  Here’s hoping our message of “Good Food Helping Good People” catches people’s attention.

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For the last two years we’ve saved on the cost of postage and used the power of the people to walk out across 19 mini-routes within our catchment area, between Breezehill and Island Park, and from the river to Carling.  After it’s done, many of us remark that we appreciate our mail delivery people so much more – everyone’s mailbox is in a different spot!

We love hearing stories about how people love the postcards so much they put them up on their fridges!

Thanks for supporting Bountiful Tables!

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We’d been mulling over the idea of this fundraiser for about nine months when we decided to take the plunge and organize it. With a quick turnaround time of about four weeks, we hit the streets looking for partner restaurants who would generously donate a portion of their sales for the evening of October 21st to the Parkdale Food Centre. Once word spread in the restaurant community, we were able to line up seven partners: Silver Spoon, Burnt Butter, The Flying Banzini, 10Fourteen, Thyme & Again, Petit Bill’s Bistro, and Hintonburger.

Through the generous donations of our partner restaurants and diners that evening we raised a total of $1924.50.

The continued generosity of our restaurant partners and our neighbours always amazes us.
We are hoping this might become an annual event for us — stay tuned to see!

Taking the Reverse Food Truck to a new location: online!

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We’re happy to announce that today we launched the world’s first Online Reverse Food Truck at parkdalefood.reversefoodtruck.ca. This new and innovative channel for donations will give the local community here in Ottawa, and the broader community online a chance to help one of Ottawa’s most dynamic food organizations through convenient, online giving.

The Reverse Food Truck is built on Shopify’s ecommerce platform and allows supporters to donate fresh food, personal hygiene items, or support the centre’s workshops without visiting the Centre during regular operating hours. “The Reverse Food Truck is open 24 hours a day, 7 days per week to accept donations. Many of our supporters enjoy choosing specific items to bring in, and often, parents will involve their children in the discussion about what donations they would like to provide,” says Hilary McVey, Fundraising Chair on the Board.

Visitors to the online Reverse Food Truck site select the items they would like to donate and checkout in a few simple steps. All donations receive an eligible tax receipt immediately by email.

The website was designed and built by online marketing consultant and web developer David Hicks after visiting the ‘real life’ Reverse Food Truck pilot during the summer of 2014. The PFC team would like to thank him for pitching the online Reverse Food Truck concept and for volunteering to build the website. We hope other food centres might look at the model and realize an opportunity to complement their more traditional donation options. The PFC team would be delighted to share what we have learned through this process, as well as information about the steps involved from idea to launch, with other food centres.