Virtual walk October 4 for our local food bank

Friends preparing for this year’s Walk for the Centre

By Susan Palmai

Let us stop to thank more unsung, very local heroes and heroines who volunteer to provide food to those in need in the downtown area. The volunteers and staff at our local food bank in the basement of Centretown United Church on the corner of Argyle and Bank rearranged the entire operation to maintain social distancing. Volunteers put up with the discomfort of masks, gloves and frequent hand washing while sorting, shelving and bagging supplies coming in from many sources.

Because of COVID-19, the Centretown Emergency Food Centre (CEFC) had to limit its hours of operation to Mondays and Fridays from 12 noon until 1 p.m. It moved distribution upstairs to the main floor of Centretown United Church to allow better social distancing and to accommodate limitations on the number of volunteers permitted in both the basement food pantry and upstairs where clients are served. Groceries are handed out in pre-packaged bags to reduce the risk of infection.

Last year, CEFC served over 9,000 hungry people living in Centretown, the Glebe, Old Ottawa South and Old Ottawa East.  There are now only two employees working with the many volunteers to pack and bag groceries and counsel the needy. Twenty-two local churches, collectively and through individual members, working through the ecumenical Centretown Churches Social Action Committee (CCSAC), donated $68,000, most of which was used to support the food centre. While other important donors to the CEFC include the City of Ottawa and the Ottawa Food Bank, there is still not enough money to feed all of those who come to our door.

This year we will walk virtually – doesn’t that sound virtuous? – to raise money. On Sunday, October 4 from 2 to 4 p.m., we are asking everyone who supports the local emergency food bank to choose their own time, partners and place for a walk. Beforehand, please make a donation by credit card on the CCSAC website – click on centretownchurches.org where you will find a pledge form. If you do not have internet access, we ask that your donation be sent by cheque to CCSAC, 507 Bank St., Ottawa, K2P 1Z5. CCSAC will send out receipts for donations.

We ask that you follow Ottawa Public Health guidelines in place at the time of your walk.

Susan Palmai is a member of the Outreach Committee at Glebe-St. James United Church and a church representative on the Centretown Churches Social Action Committee. She also volunteers at the Centretown Emergency Food Centre.

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