The Ottawa Food Bank aims to provide access to food for all people of Ottawa, but they recognize they can always do more.
That’s why at their annual general meeting on Monday, partner agencies and community members came together to celebrate the work that was done, and look forward with hope.
In 2016, the food bank was able to put close to six million pounds of food in the hands of those who needed it. Also in 2016, they focused on how they could better serve the community.
Michael Maidment, executive director of the Ottawa Food Bank, shared with those in attendance the results of a community consultation they began in September.
Stakeholders told the food bank they wanted them to improves access to healthy food, educate the community and build capacity in the food system.
“I want you to walk away knowing we heard you,” Maidment said.
Those tasked with putting these themes into action are the board of directors and its three newly appointed members.
Sylvie Manser is one of those new board members. Currently she is the executive director of the Banff Avenue Community House, in which she and her team provide educational and social service programs to a low-income community.
Manser is looking forward to the opportunity to work with the food bank and fight hunger in Ottawa. According to Manser, learning about the many programs the food bank offers will help her better serve the communities she works with.
For her, it’s important the voices of the community are brought to the board so the programs developed work for them.
“It’s really important to be the voice for the community,” Manser said.
Ivan Gedz, co-owner of Union Local 613, is also a new recruit for the food bank board. Initially apprehensive to the idea, he has since become more comfortable with this new role.
Gedz is hopeful the relationships he has developed with the many people involved in the food industry are able to help the food bank.
“I have a lot of connections with the food service industry so perhaps I can leverage those relationships,” Gedz said by email.
Gedz is excited to use those relationships to shape policy and change the plight of those going hungry. As a restaurant owner, he recognizes the irony of this position, but hopes it will allow him to sleep better at night.
“There is something very perverse about serving decadence to those that can afford it while watching those that cannot go hungry,” Gedz said.
With their new board members, the Ottawa Food Bank will continue to grow their food programs for those who need it most.