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Ottawa Food Bank use at Record High

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa, ON – The Ottawa Food Bank is reporting the highest service figures in its 38-year history. Service figures from March 2022 reveal a 39 per cent increase in local food bank demand from 2017. March figures also indicate a 20 per cent increase in service compared to the same period last year.

“These are unprecedented times. With a rise in people needing to access a food bank for the first time, March 2022 is the busiest month we have seen in terms of people served and visits to food support programs” says Rachael Wilson, CEO of the Ottawa Food Bank. “Despite natural disasters, a global pandemic and the rising cost of inflation, day-to-day operations at the Ottawa Food Bank have continued. However, we are unsure of our sector’s sustainability if the numbers continue to rise at this pace.”

Food banking was initially designed to offer temporary, emergency support in exceptional times of need. Figures from the last five years indicate continuing need in the local community. The Ottawa Food Bank and its network of over 100 member agencies provide food support and wraparound services to tens of thousands of people, year after year.

Care Centre Ottawa, a member of the Ottawa Food Bank network, originally offered food support among many other community services. However, Executive Director Lisa Fabian explains that they have had to change their programming to exclusively focus on food due to overwhelming demand. “In Feb 2020, prior to the onset of the pandemic, we served approximately 220 families per month. This past March, we served over 1,050 families – the highest number since the Care Centre opened its doors. We continue to see multiple new families coming to the Care Centre every day and it has been challenging to keep up with the increased demand. Generally, our shelves are stocked to meet the varied needs of our guests. This spring, the increase in demand has required us to arrange for numerous additional deliveries from the Ottawa Food Bank to simply stock the necessities.”

To achieve food security, food banks need commitment and predictable support from municipal, provincial, and federal governments. “Food security is about more than improving access to healthy food – we must continue to advocate for systemic changes that put food banks out of business,” explains Wilson. “There is a critical need for government intervention. Legislated poverty can end by making housing affordable, ensuring social supports keep pace with the cost of living, and providing decent jobs for all.”

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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 108 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
alex@ottawafoodbank.ca, 613-745-7001 ext. 13

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