Ottawa Food Bank: Emergency $500,000 grant amid surging deman

The Ottawa Food Bank is giving an emergency grant to food banks within its network amid what it calls “unprecedented” demand.

The one-time $500,000 grant to community and emergency food banks comes after the busiest month in the Ottawa Food Bank’s history.

Last month, the food bank and its 112 member agencies reported more than 40,500 visits, a new local record and a 24 per cent increase over November 2021.

“The rising number of visits to food banks is happening at unprecedented rates requiring emergency intervention,” Ottawa Food Bank CEO Rachael Wilson said in a news release. “This is an unprecedented time for Ottawa.”

She said emergency grant will help local food banks buy more food as the number of people requiring support outpaces their inventories due to the increasing gap between the cost of living and people’s income.

Community food banks are also seeing never-before-seen demand. The Lowertown Community Resource Center has seen its number of visits double since 2017, and increase more than 3,000 since last year.

“The situation is urgent and will only get worse,” executive director Matt Beutel said.

Some agencies are being forced to refer people to other programs or turning them away.

“We are registering around 30 new families every week and are welcoming back families we had not seen in years,” said Jean-Michel Rousseau of Partage Vanier. “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.”

The Ottawa Food Bank also released its annual Hunger Report on Tuesday, which says the city is “at a crossroads” and under strain as the cost of living—including food prices—continues to increase.

In 2022, the food bank reported a record 400,000 visits to its member agencies, an all-time high in the organization’s 38-year history.

One in seven households in Ottawa reported experiencing food in security in 2022, compared to one in 15 in 2017.

Leave a Comment