FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ottawa, ON – Ottawa’s food insecurity is at a crisis level and requires emergency support. To meet this critical need, the Ottawa Food Bank has announced that it will be distributing a one-time emergency grant of $500,000 exclusively to community and emergency food banks within its network.
The announcement comes as a response to unprecedented demand: In November 2022, the Ottawa Food Bank and its network of 112 member agencies reported over 40,500 visits to food banks across the city, representing a new record in local food banking history – a 24% increase over November 2021.
“Our food bank is experiencing never-before-seen demand,” said Matt Beutel, Executive Director of Lowertown Community Resource Centre, a member agency of the Ottawa Food Bank. “1 in 10 Lowertown residents visit our food bank at least once over the course of a year. Since 2017, the number of visits has doubled. We have had an increase of more than 3,000 visits since last year. The situation is urgent and will only get worse. Emergency relief is needed now, but so is more and sustained investment in holistic approaches to poverty reduction.”
The Ottawa Food Bank has heard from member agencies that many were referring people in need to other programs and preparing to turn people away. The emergency grant will enable member agencies to purchase more food, as the number of people requiring support is outpacing food bank inventories.
“We are seeing an unprecedented increase in need,” explained Jean-Michel Rousseau of Partage Vanier, a member agency of the Ottawa Food Bank. “We are registering around 30 new families every week and are welcoming back families we had not seen in years. We are receiving more requests for additional service during the month than ever before. When our team asks folks where they feel the most strain, the answer is clear: people’s income simply doesn’t match the cost of living.”
“When will we acknowledge the health crisis facing our city? This is an unprecedented time for Ottawa,” said Rachael Wilson, CEO of the Ottawa Food Bank. “The rising number of visits to food banks is happening at unprecedented rates requiring emergency intervention. The cost of basic needs are increasingly unaffordable. Wages and social assistance rates haven’t kept up, and people rely on our network of food banks to make ends meet. Until all levels of government come together to address the unaffordable cost of living, the Ottawa Food Bank network is essential. Sufficient income, affordable housing, and mental health supports go a long way to providing much-needed stability. We have seen other provinces provide much-needed support to residents as well as food banks. Sadly, only the Ottawa Food Bank and its generous donors are stepping up to meet the demand in our city.”
Donations to the Ottawa Food Bank are down approximately 8% compared to 2021. The continued generosity of the Ottawa Food Bank’s donors enables reactive response. The Ottawa Food Bank is asking the public for continued financial support. The Ottawa Food Bank and its network of member agencies will continue to do whatever is necessary to ensure that no one goes hungry.
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About the Ottawa Food Bank:
The Ottawa Food Bank is the main emergency food provider in the National Capital Region, which works in partnership with a network of 112 community food programs to provide food and supplies for tens of thousands of people each month – 36 per cent of whom are children. With a focus on fresh, and thanks to the community’s support, on average 12 to 14 tons of food is distributed from the 1317 Michael Street warehouse every weekday.
For media enquiries or to book an interview, please contact:
Alex Noreau, Interim Communications Manager, Ottawa Food Bank
firstname.lastname@example.org, 613-745-7001 ext. 137