A Response to the CTV Interview

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 info@parkdalefoodcentre.org

– The Parkdale Food Centre Board of Directors

Reverse Food Truck Gets Lots of Love from PFC Neighbours

Parkdale Food Centre coordinator Karen Secord, left, and Hintonburger owner Thomas Williams have teamed up to create a “reverse” food truck pilot program. David Kawai / Ottawa Citizen

You may have heard that we recently started something we like to call a reverse food truck with our (very generous) community partner, Hintonburger. In the off-season for their Hintonburger Express truck, we’ve taken it over with something different in mind than selling delicious food — we’re accepting it!

From July 18th to August 9th, we’ll be collecting fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy, healthy non-perishables, and personal hygiene items like toilet paper, toothbrushes, toothpaste and shampoo at this unique location in the Hintonburger’s parking lot (1096 Wellington Street West) from 4 – 8pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. These donations will then be directly distributed to clients of the Parkdale Food Centre during the Centre’s regular operating hours.

In our first few evenings, we’ve already collected a fantastic number of donations. Thanks to everyone who has come out to visit, drop off items, and support the PFC!





Tap Takeover and Dance Party at the HPH!

Two of our favourite PFC supporters, Beyond The Pale and the Hintonburg Public House are hosting a Tap Takeover and Dance Party at the HPH on Saturday August 9th – and we can’t wait!

With eight beers on tap for your perusal, a DJ dance party AND discounted pints of Beyond the Pale’s locally-brewed beers ALL NIGHT LONG, craft beer lovers and locals are sure to have a great time! Every hour there will be something special to look forward to PLUS there will be an interactive way to help your neighbours in need at the Parkdale Food Centre & win some tasty prizes. Fun starts at 8PM.

Visit the event page on Facebook for more details.

Back to Our Roots — A Gala to Remember!

On May 1st, the Parkdale Food Centre went “Back to Our Roots” as we hosted our first ever gala fundraiser at the Urban Element, located at 424 Parkdale Avenue. 424 Parkdale is the original site of the Parkdale Food Centre so the location holds many special memories for our volunteers and our community. It was the perfect location for our gala and Payton, Carley and the entire Urban Element team went above and beyond to help make the event a success!

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A spirit of generosity and friendship infused the evening as our volunteers, community partners and neighbours came together to help raise funds for the Centre’s healthy food programs. Renée Yoxon and Craig Pedersen created a relaxed vibe with their soulful renditions of some of our favourite jazz classics. We thank the Professional Entertainment Group for providing the PA system for us.  Also thank you to Partytime for all the rentals which they provided as a donation.

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Throughout the evening, our  “gala goers” were treated to some delicious treats thanks to our friends at The Urban Element, Supply & Demand, StoneSoup FoodWorks and of course Marvellous Marlene, from The Merry Dairy! There were also a delightful selection of desserts from the Flying Banzini, Cakes by Katz, and Strawberry Blonde.


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Beyond the Pale generously provided an array of delicious local brews and guests enjoyed a special delivery from Stratus’ Vineyards in Niagara on the Lake. Cheers!

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As guests mingled, snacked and enjoyed the music, they also had a chance to bid on a fantastic lineup of Silent Auction prizes. We were overwhelmed by the generosity of local business owners who provided great prizes to help us meet our fundraising target. Miv Photography, Renu Spa, the GCTC, Twiss & Weber, The Elmdale Oyster House, Whalesbone, Andrew King, Alison Fowler, Beyond the Pale, the NAC, Gallery 3, CAA and essence Catering were just a few of the generous donors who provided prizes for the auction. The bidding was brisk & competitive.  We had many happy prize winners at the end of the night!

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Jim Watson stopped by to surprise us during the evening.


It was a fantastic evening and thanks to everyone’s support, enthusiasm and contributions, we were able to surpass our fundraising goal and raise over $12,000 in one night!  Now that’s a reason to smile!  Our shelves will be stocked over the summer months when we typically struggle to keep up with demand when many of our donors are away on summer vacations.


It was our first foray into a large scale event and overall we were overwhelmed with offers to help and advice on how to proceed.  Thanks again to our hosts at the Urban Element, we felt the magic in the venue.

Back to Our Roots: The first-ever Parkdale Food Centre Gala


When the Parkdale Food Centre was founded nearly 30 years ago, it was first housed in the old fire station on Parkdale, which many of you may recognize as the current home of the Urban Element — a cooking school and event space that our neighbourhood treasures. We are thrilled that Urban Element has agreed to host us in our original space and let us go “Back to our Roots” in order to raise funds to help our neighbours in need.


Join us on Thursday, May 1st from 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm to enjoy delicious food and drinks courtesy of our partners, including the Urban Element, the Merry Dairy, Stone Soup FoodworksSupply & Demand, Beyond the Pale and Stratus Vineyards. Each ticket includes three complementary drinks, with a cash bar also available for the duration of the event as well.


The event will feature a silent auction, and music by Renée Yoxon and Craig Pedersen, as well as the opportunity to mix and mingle with Parkdale Food Centre supporters, community members, and local foodies.

Tickets for the event cost $150 (including a $65 tax receipt). A limited number of tickets are available, so don’t delay if you’d like to attend!


Petit Bill’s Tutored Whiskey Tasting & Food Pairing

In January, Petit Bill’s hosted a Tutored Whiskey Tasting and Food Paring evening, featuring a great selection of whiskies and bourbons from Beam Global along with an excellent five course dinner prepared by Petit Bill’s chef Glen Sansome and this team. Petit Bill’s has hosted similar events in the past, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Parkdale Food Centre. In fact, last year’s Bourbon evening raised money for us and this year was an even more successful repeat performance.


It was a sold out event and I counted myself lucky to have gotten a ticket. The warmth of the packed restaurant contrasted with the rather cold January evening. 48 guests were welcomed by co-owner Randy Fitzpatrick and we kicked off the evening with an awe-inspiring barrel-aged maple/bacon Manhattan. We even walked away with the rather simple recipe for creating your own bacon-infused whiskey.  Any recipe that starts with a pound of bacon is guaranteed to end well!


We settled at our tables and I joined a group of guys who were veterans of the whiskey/bourbon tasting crowd, having already logged one trip to Kentucky to tour the various bourbon distilleries. Laid out before us were the five whiskeys we would be tasting throughout the evening.


Matt Jones, a cocktail mixologist from Maker’s Mark, was our guide for the evening, introducing us to the history and pedigree of the whiskeys as well as many great stories about the industry and its personalities.

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Then it was time to eat. Chef Sansome delivered a delicious and varied set of courses that perfectly complimented the whiskey – or was it the other way round? Imagine seared sea scallop with sour cherry, bacon and barley fricassee. Or how about house-smoked salmon rillette, grilled pork tenderloin medallions with orange-cranberry marmalade and Owensboro Kentucky BBQ lamb? And of course, there was dessert – a honey-crisp tarte tatin with homemade praline ice cream. Each course coupled with its own whiskey – a decadent evening.


The evening ended on an especially high note. Beam Global donated two gift baskets, a bottle of Maker’s Mark 46 with glasses, and a bottle of Devil’s Cut along with a mini aging barrel to make your own maple/bacon whiskey. Both baskets were raffled off and here are the two lucky winners.

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Speaking of winners, the proceeds of the raffle went to the Parkdale Food Centre and Karen readily accepted a cheque of $845 from Randy and Terry of Petit Bill’s. A big thanks to them and their efforts!

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Thanks to Petit Bill’s for the great photographs!

Flavours of Ottawa — Great Food, Great Fundraiser for PFC!

Ottawa foodies will not want to miss the Flavours of Ottawa: Westboro Easter Food Market on Saturday, April 12th. Taking place from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at St George’s Parish Hall, eighteen local artisan food vendors will be selling their delicious goods at this Easter Market and raising funds for the Parkdale Food Centre at the same time. This event is generously sponsored by Diane & Jen, Kitchenalia and Givopoly.

Easter Food Market

To learn more, visit the Ottawa Specialty Food Association’s website.

We love our new blackboard — check it out!

Thanks the fantastic team at Beyond The Pale and Tanya Sprowl-Martelock of Phive Design, we have a new focal point at the Parkdale Food Centre. This new chalkboard has been added to the middle of the room so it can be seen by everyone, with the intention of being our new education center — until now we’ve not had an easy, single spot to share important info, nutrition ideas, post upcoming programs or even just highlight our food of the month. Over the coming weeks, we’ll add a new section that shares what we’re out of to help our clients be aware, our volunteers packing orders, or donors that come in wondering what we could use the most.

We’re still on the lookout for a brochure rack so that we can share brochures and pamphlets, but this is an amazing improvement. We love it!

Two people who are the “Heart” of the Parkdale Food Centre receive wonderful awards!

Don Flynn, Chair of the Board of Directors, was recently awarded The Heart of the Community Award for Ward 9. It was presented to him by Councillor Keith Egli. Don’s work with both the PFC and his involvement in scouting over the years was recognized. His steady leadership is appreciated!

Karen Secord, the Coordinator of the PFC, was awarded the City Builder Award by Mayor Jim Watson and Councillor Katherine Hobbs on December 11th. Her ability to reach out and engage our community is incredible. She is tireless in finding new ways to help our clients and her enthusiasm and passion are evident to everyone who meets her. She is always coming up with new ideas and has a way to inspire others to get involved.