January 28 was the Ottawa Food Bank’s Annual General Meeting attended by supporters, volunteers, staff, and member agency partners. Thank you to all who were present despite the threat of a snowstorm.
The meeting began with Ottawa Food Bank’s Chair of the Board, David K. Law, welcoming everyone and introducing the evening’s Keynote Speaker, Councillor Catherine McKenney (Somerset Ward 14). Councillor McKenney works on the Housing and Homelessness file with the City of Ottawa and understands the difference adequate affordable housing makes for our city’s vulnerable.
“I moved to Ottawa long ago as a single parent, and I didn’t have much. I didn’t have a home to stay in,” says McKenney as she recalls to the audience her experience decades ago of getting affordable housing (called “city living” at the time), child care, loans, a bus pass, and Mother’s Allowance while going back to school. “We didn’t have much. But we made due. We had a little place and we could get by.”
McKenney carried on to say that she doesn’t know how struggling parents and individuals are able to do it these days. “We were provided with enough to keep us functioning. I never had to visit the food bank. Today it doesn’t seem like much of the help I received is in place. Things now are so much more expensive or solutions like affordable housing aren’t offered in a timely manner. It can take years.”
Councillor McKenney closed her address by telling the audience to hold elected officials accountable. Ensure representatives of all levels of government – the City included – do what they say they are going to do and ensure they keep their community’s best interests in mind at all times.
Following the Keynote Address, attendees approved the 2016-2017 AGM minutes and David K. Law took a moment to introduce the Board of Directors. Law then moved into his Report from the Board.
“It is unacceptable that in a country as rich as ours that food banks are needed,” Law began. He carried on to note that while it’s a shame that emergency food assistance is needed, there are many to thank for their hard work in ensuring people in need can keep their dignity when visiting their community food bank.
“There are families right now in our city sitting down to a dinner because of you. There are parents who don’t have to explain to their children why there is no food, or why what they have isn’t enough. They don’t have to face that indignity tonight because of you.”
Michael Maidment, Ottawa Food Bank’s Chief Executive Officer, gave his report to attendees covering actions taken by the Ottawa Food Bank throughout last fiscal year. He covered how the Ottawa Food Bank has begun to work within it’s new strategic direction in four areas of focus: healthy and accessible food, capacity within our system of agencies, innovation in food banking, and advocacy. He also took the opportunity to thank everyone for their hard work, kind hearts, and support.
“The Ottawa Food Bank will be 35 this year. We will be here until we’re no longer needed, but I truly hope it doesn’t take another 35 years for necessary poverty reduction initiatives are in place,” said Maidment. “Until we’re no longer needed, thank you. Thank you to our member agencies for your work on the front lines supporting your neighbours… Thank you to our donors making it possible to provide food and support to 114 programs across the city… Thank you to our volunteers who do everything from event support to food delivery… Finally, thank you to all of you who are here tonight. Thank you for taking the time to show that you care.”
Sarah Tremblay, Treasure of the Ottawa Food Bank’s Board of Directors, went over the financials with attendees, and was honoured to thank donors for a successful year where the Ottawa Food Bank was able to keep up with demand and maintain necessary reserves. As we have done for the past four years, any surplus has gone towards achieving our target of a six-month operational reserve. This ensures there would not be a disruption of service in the event of any unforeseen financial challenges. We have also created a capital reserve to replace any equipment or trucks if need be, as well as an innovation reserve which allows us to adapt and innovate our programs as necessary. For a full look at the Ottawa Food Bank financials, please refer the Audited Finance Statements.
Marian McMahon, the Chair of the Ottawa Food Bank’s Governance & Nominating Committee gave her report and covered what board members stand for re-election. Congratulations on re-election to: Erin Crowe, Ivan Gedz, Sylvie Manser, Marian McMahon, Nicole Perras, and Sarah Tremblay. A motion was then passed to welcome two new board members: Michela Tokarski and Yacouba Traoré. Thank you to all our Board of Directors members for your hard work and dedication.
At this time, we also had to say good bye and thank you to two individuals who have served on the board for many years. Thank you to David K. Law and Irene Cameron for your dedication to the Ottawa Food Bank and the Ottawa community. Over the years you have become part of the Ottawa Food Bank family, and we thank you for hard work and compassion.
Thank you to all who attended the Annual General Meeting, and thank you to the Ottawa Food Bank’s Board of Directors, member agencies, volunteers, donors, and supporters for another successful year. We couldn’t help provide for our community without you.
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