Ottawa Food Bank Position on Food Donations

The Ottawa Food Bank would like to clarify its position on food donations in light of recent media stories regarding a decision by the Parkdale Food Centre to limit certain types of food donations.

The Ottawa Food Bank is a central agency that collects and distributes food to a network of 140 agencies throughout the City of Ottawa.  Those agencies vary from small emergency food cupboards to school breakfast programs to larger community food banks. While the Parkdale Food Centre is a member agency of – and receives food from – the Ottawa Food Bank, they are an independent organization with their own charitable status, board of directors, staff, and volunteers. The decision to accept and distribute certain types of food is solely theirs.  They do not speak on behalf of the Ottawa Food Bank nor do they speak on behalf of the other 139 member agencies supported by the Ottawa Food Bank.

For 30 years, the Ottawa Food Bank has been fighting hunger in our community by providing food to people in need.  We take a balanced approach to the food we offer based on Canada’s Food Guide, which includes an assortment of perishable and non-perishable food and increasingly includes fresh food such as milk, eggs, fruit, vegetables, grains, beef, chicken, and pork.

We value every donation of food and every financial donation made to the Ottawa Food Bank and work hard to ensure it reaches a family, child, or individual in need.

Thank you for your continued support.

For more information, please read Parkdale Food Centre’s statement and response.


12 Responses

  1. You should put in boundaries on the food types. Its horrifying that those that are in need are treated with a lack of consideration about their health. It seems those giving are being particularly selfish if they think they can donate crappy food and the poor need to suck it up and eat it. That’s not right! Kraft dinner should be banned. Most packaged foods are horrifyingly bad for the health. If someone can afford to spend $4 on a Kraft Dinner then go and spend it on a couple of cans of beans, or pasta, or pasta sauce. The selfishness and disdain that those donating seem to have for those in need is becoming fairly evident. Take what you’re given suck it up, be grateful. Well why don’t they give something of value instead of a toxic waste. I think you should ALL make policy changes. Soda is killing the young kids, its a luxury and offer no health value, only detrimental. These families need good food, nutritional food. I’m horrified that these things were even permitted to begin with.

    1. Thank you for your comments. We definitely do what we can to encourage our donors to make healthy choices, but there is always room for improvement. On top of donations, we are particularly proud of our Community Harvest (fruit and vegetable farming), and Food Aid (beef) programs, as well as our relationships with organizations like the Chicken Farmers of Canada, Egg Farmers of Canada, and our milk program.

      If donations of pop, candy, and the like are made, those items are not given to our member agency food programs in lieu of items such as pasta, produce, milk, beef, etc. They are added on as extras if they want them.

      Thanks again. Enjoy your day.

    2. You can’t assume that those who donate less nutritious foods do so because they think less of those who go hungry in this city. Perhaps they can appreciate that in addition to eating nutritious basics, kids in particular enjoy an occasional meal of KD, hot dogs and soda? And let’s get real, the only KD meal that costs $4 is the premium version. I’m sure that it’s the $1 basic boxes that are donated because that is the classic version that many families enjoy as an affordable “treat”. It may not be the most nutritious choice but it’s convenient, cheap and temporarily fills bellies that are often empty. Gifts should not be turned away but the Ottawa Food Bank is taking the right approach by offering balanced choices to families. And their efforts to build relationships with providers of quality meats, produce, eggs, milk, etc is evidence of their commitment to providing nutritious food to those in need.

    3. The thing is food banks don’t have a surplus of food if they all banned certain food then that would mean far less food.

    4. I believe you are being too harsh and narrow minded anonymous. Just because a bottle of pop or a bag of chips is donated doesn’t mean that those people think less of those in need, did you ever consider they are including them either alone or along with healthy items as a treat for families? I started donating food when I was in high school through a hamper program at Christmas and thought it was such a good idea I have continued to do something similar on a smaller scale when my family can afford to. When we donate we make sure our package includes good foods like fruit, vegetables, pasta, breads, meats etc. We also include household items like toothpaste, shampoo, soap etc and yes treats. It is not we think less of those in need it is because we think everyone wants and deserves a treat whether that’s some pop, hot dogs, candy bars, cupcakes etc. We have also in the past included pet food, which can be costly, for those families that have pets. When we include household items, treats or pet food we are not replacing the nutritious food we donate we are donating them on top of good and healthy foods because everyone should be able to have a treat every now and then. I understand not wanting donations of solely candy or pop but to complain or insult those that do or to imply we don’t care or as Samantha below put it “room for improvement” I find in incredible poor taste and some what narrow minded. Not because you, the food banks or those who need it should be grateful but because those of us who donate a variety of items so families can have more items they not only need but would enjoy including treats actually do put thought behind our donations and frankly I feel like it is a great slap in our faces just because we included something to hopefully brighten somebodys day.

      1. Thank you for your comments Liz.

        To clarify, “always room for improvement” is on our (the Ottawa Food Bank’s) end. There are always ways for us to improve how we encourage donors, always ways for us to improve the product we distribute, etc etc. We’re constantly looking for ways for us to be our very best.


  2. I wish to thank all of you so much for the valuable services you provide for this fine city. Your organization is heaven sent to people in need! Well done and a big thank you.

  3. In light of recent media stories regarding a decision by the Parkdale Food Centre to limit certain types of food donations your response is greatly appreciated.

    It’s unfortunate how the person or persons have decided to bring awareness about the need of healthy food donations, and perishable food donations. I am sure it is the general interest of Parkdale Food Centre and the Food Bank to “attract donations, not attack the donations”, which is what has happened by this recent media coverage.

    By coincidence, I was going through my cookbooks when I came across a pamphlet that I thought is worth sharing with you and Parkdale Food Centre. It’s from Kingston’s Loving Spoonful organization ( This program reclaims surplus foods from restaurants, caterers, grocers, wholesalers, and farmers. If your organization and/or Parkdale Food Centre is not already actively seeking donations in this format you may want to consider this for the future.

    In closing, it would be more helpful, it may attract more donations if future persons (spokespersons) state facts about poverty and add “Now, try to eat a health diet.”

    God bless you and all those working to help the needy.

    Mary Regan
    Kingston, ON

    1. Thank you for your kind words and for sharing about the program in Kingston.
      The Ottawa Food Bank does have a few programs that do very similar things.

      Thank you again.

  4. I spent 6 years using food banks and my church benevolent. Everything donated I appreciated and used. We are not old England Dickens style poverty these days. There are no workhouses and orphanages. There is absolutely nothing wrong with food banks having Kraft dinner or fresh peaches. Most of us working/non working Poor need whatever we can get to make meals for our families. A box of KD or cheezies may not be the best nutrition choices but added into a family food supply for the week will keep a child going until the next day. Most families need supplements/vitamins/fresh fruit/meat etc. If there is a day or two between a nice offering of fresh stuff then KD and fruit rollups and cookies and sugary cereals will keep hunger at bay.

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