This past September an organization called FeedOntario – a coalition of Ontario food banks, released a report which revealed that
the highest per capita percentage use of food banks in Ontario was Ottawa-Vanier. The second highest in this city, and fifth highest in Ontario was our own Ottawa South.
For most of us living in this lovely, green and tree filled neighbourhood this fact is a bit of a
shock. Food insecurity in Alta Vista? Preposterous. When we think of food insecurity, we think of starving children in Africa, not children going to bed hungry in Ottawa South.
We are a diverse community of well educated, affluent professionals; government workers,
university professors, doctors, retired diplomats. We seldom need to visit the south side of
Heron Road; we do not socialize with the bewildered refugees, the new Canadians, the
physical, mentally and emotionally disabled folk on fixed income and other struggling members of our very complex community. Poverty and food insecurity are huge, yet largely invisible issues.
Our Heroes for December are the Lisa Wilson and Pastoral Committee of St Thomas the
Apostle Anglican Church on Alta Vista Drive, who are attempting to increase awareness about the problems our neighbours face, to bridge the gap between affluence and desperation in this community in an innovative fashion. On Wednesday October 23 they hosted a free dinner at Heron Road Community Center for anyone who wanted to come. The dinner was held in the well-equipped Community Kitchen next to Heron Emergency Food Centre, on a Wednesday night, from 5:30 to 7:30, because the HEFC is open for families from 6 to 8 Pm on Wednesdays. All who were waiting for food were invited.
Volunteers from St Thomas brought fruit, salads, casseroles, and desserts including the Canadian potluck standbys, macaroni and cheese and shepherd’s pie, as well as middle eastern food (baklava, yum!) and a Caribbean curry.
Six students from St Pat’s High school volunteered to help serve as part of their required volunteer hours, as well as our local political representatives, Jean Cloutier, John Fraser and David McGuinty.
In addition to clients of HEFC, random people visiting the community centre for meetings, the health club, and sports events as well as Heron Community Centre staff, and volunteers at HEFC were encouraged to attend, sit down together and share a meal. Over 80 people participated.
What a wonderful way to create a sense of community, to break down barriers between us,
and to help us get to know our neighbours, sharing food and company on a cold evening. While this was the first event of this nature, we hope it will not be the last. Many guests at the dinner asked when the next one would be held. Lisa is ruminating on the idea of holding an ethnic dinner, with volunteers bringing dishes from “ back home” to share together. We hope she has initiated a trend in our community. Thank you Lisa and the volunteers at St Thomas.
Those of you who are interested in learning more about food insecurity issues in this city are
This is a report from FeedOntario. Meanwhile, HEFC is preparing for a busy holiday season as churches, service organizations, families and businesses remember the folks in our community who are going through hard times. Funds and food supplies donated through food drives and special events at this time of the year help us provide nutritious and tasty food for people throughout the winter.
Members of the Board of HEFC are happy to attend your holiday event or fundraiser to talk
about the service we, all together, provide for our community. We will be representing HEFC at the Breakfast with Santa event on December 7 at the Canterbury Community Centre and are glad to participate in any local events. Call us at 613 737-9090 or e-mail us at hefc-
email@example.com for more information.
Heron Emergency Food Centre is located at 1480 Heron Road and is open 4 days a week to
provide emergency food to people in need in Ottawa South.
Check out our Facebook page at Heron Emergency Food Centre @hefcottawa
DECEMBER WISH LIST
A little extra for our clients during the holiday season helps to lift spirits all round – It means so much to someone down on their luck to feel that others care. We like to be able to provide a little extra during this season - Personal toiletries such as soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and deodorant are much appreciated “luxuries” when every penny counts.
We also welcome cash and food donations including tuna, canned vegetables, canned tomato sauce, canned soup, chickpeas, kidney beans, cereal, and snacks for children.