Can our seniors help themselves and our hungry neighbours at the same time?

by P. Marsden-Dole
for the CCCA Seniors Committee

Can our seniors help both themselves and others? Yes to both, if they join a three-kilometre Walkathon on Sunday, October 16 in support of the Centretown Emergency Food Centre!

The Food Centre, located at 507 Bank Street, is a vital resource to many people living in our part of the city. Its catchment area runs from Wellington Street to Billings Bridge, and from Lyon Street to the west and Main Street, including Lees Avenue, to the east.

Unfortunately, this year the Food Centre is facing more challenges than usual. In spite of generous support from the Ottawa Food Bank, food drives by local schools, and grants from both the City of Ottawa and the federal government, demand is outstripping available resources. Food prices continue to go up, and the number of people accessing the Food Centre has increased, partly because of added emergency shelters in its catchment area, partly due to temporary housing in Centretown for government-supported refugees.

Sadly, more families with children are coming to the Food Centre these days as well.

Seniors in our community can provide some extra help to our local Emergency Food Centre and CCSAC by participating in a short three-kilometre Walkathon on Sunday, October 16 at 2:00 pm, starting and ending at City Hall. Registration will begin at 1:30 pm, with several local musicians providing music before the walk begins.

The route will take people on a path through Centretown, a great location for a Sunday afternoon community event.

Twenty-three church communities and total strangers in Centretown, Old Ottawa South, the Glebe and Old Ottawa East supply food and financial donations regularly, via the Centretown Churches Social Action Committee (CCSAC).

Donations make possible a three-to-four-day supply of groceries once a month to people in need in our neighbourhood.

The Centretown Emergency Food Centre provides this service four days a week from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm out of the basement of Centretown United Church on the corner of Argyle Avenue and Bank Street.

In addition to groceries, the Food Centre connects clients to other services available in the city.

It also offers a cooking demonstration program that promotes healthy eating.

It relies on a host of volunteers drawn from across Centretown and beyond, many of whom have been working at the Food Centre for years. In addition, local college and university students in social work programs do placements at the Food Centre from time to time.

Walkathon organizer Elizabeth Kent says organizers hope to see enough support to make this Walkathon the first annual event of many.

Kent feels that the walk is also about raising awareness of the needs of both the less fortunate living in our central Ottawa community, and the important role the Centretown Emergency Food Centre plays in supporting those in need.

“This is really about neighbours helping neighbours – we would welcome walkers of all ages to turn out and support this important resource,” she says.

If you can’t come yourself, you and your friends and neighbours can support a student walker with a donation for which you will receive a tax receipt for donations of $10 and over.

All ages are welcome.

Further information, and a donation form, can be found at the following website: www.centretownchurches.org.

Organizers are hoping that the idea of a gentle walk and a good cause will attract our Centretown seniors to take a walk with this fundraiser.