By Colette Downie
Since its inception in 1986, the Great Glebe Garage Sale has been a fundraiser for the Ottawa Food Bank. Again, this year, we hope you’ll join us at the Great Glebe Garage Sale on May 27 by donating a portion of your sale proceeds to the sale – or donating in-person or online in the name of our community.
It’s likely that you’re aware of the significant rise in demand for food support in Ottawa. In 2022, the Ottawa Food Bank reported a record high of 400,000 visits to its member agencies—the highest number in its history and an almost 40% increase in demand over 2017. An astonishing 1 in 7 Ottawa households experienced food insecurity in 2022 and 36% of food bank clients in Ottawa are children and youth, 7% are seniors and 5% are babies.
Many people are surprised to find that the Ottawa Food Bank is not just one organization. Comprising 112 member agencies, the Ottawa Food Bank provides a range of services to support individuals in Ottawa, including groceries, meals, afterschool snacks and programming, mental health support, employment support, and childcare.
The Ottawa Food Bank distributes over three million pounds of fresh food and six million pounds of non-perishable goods, baby and household items, each year. It spends about $1.6 million a year on food to make certain it is providing a variety of nutritious and balanced options. With the help of Ottawa Public Health and with feedback from community food programs, the Ottawa Food Bank has made substantial changes to ensure it provides food that is lower in fat, sodium, and sugar, and higher in protein and fibre (called the Health Smart program). Its winter produce program ensures that its clients receive produce even during the winter months when the Ottawa Food Bank’s own growing season is over.
The organization has shifted its focus towards better understanding and communicating the root causes of food insecurity, emphasizing that it is not caused by a lack of food, but rather by a lack of access to adequate income, which includes the ability to afford necessities – including food. Food insecurity is on the rise due to a combination of factors such as low wages, unreliable work situations, poor health, high costs of food and housing, climate change, and insufficient social support, all of which create an environment that fosters food insecurity. More food – while critical in an emergency – won’t solve these problems.
Food insecurity is not limited to those who lack access to food; it has social, economic, cultural, and environmental impacts that affect us all. Ensuring that every child is food secure today can lead to a happier and healthier adult population in the future.
That’s why the Ottawa Food Bank exists: to ensure that every person has access to nutritious, affordable, culturally appropriate food no matter their situation. Their goal is to end food insecurity in Ottawa by 2050. This is an ambitious goal that will require everyone in our community to play a part, and we at the Glebe Community Association are committed to working with the Ottawa Food Bank toward it. Everyone in the Glebe can help.
As the Ottawa Food Bank acquires food in significant quantities and enjoys the support of various food industry partners, donating some of your Great Glebe Garage Sale proceeds – we suggest 10% – to the Ottawa Food Bank can go a long way towards helping those in need. For every dollar donated, the Ottawa Food Bank can provide $5 worth of food to the community.
And please remind your friends and neighbours about this important goal of the Great Glebe Garage Sale. A city without food insecurity is possible and benefits us all.
If you have questions about this year’s sale, planned for Saturday, May 27, 2023 see the GGGS FAQs on the GCA website at https://glebeca.ca/great-glebe-garage-sale-faqs-2/. And you’ll find some great tips on preparing for the sale in the article by Marth Tobin in this month’s issue of the Glebe Report.
Colette Downie coordinates the Great Glebe Garage Sale on behalf of the Glebe Community Association.