by Patricia Marsden-Dole
Are you ready to support this year’s Walk For the Centre? The 2018 fundraiser for the Centretown Emergency Food Centre takes place on Sunday afternoon, October 21.
Many readers who live and work in Centretown encounter people every day seated on sidewalks asking for money to buy food. Here is a way for you to engage with compassionate understanding and financial support.
The walk originated when some of us decided to try something new to let people learn about and relieve the pressure on food security in central Ottawa. The walkathon’s organizer, Elizabeth Kent, says that the walk raises awareness of the important role the food centre and its volunteers play in counselling those in our community in need of some extra help.
The Emergency Food Centre, located at 507 Bank Street in the basement of Centretown United Church (Bank at Argyle), serves many people living in central Ottawa, including many refugees, students and rooming house residents.
Our catchment area runs from Wellington Street to Billings Bridge, and from Lyon Street in the west to Main Street, including Lees Avenue, in the east. The Centre receives support from many sources, but demand and rising food prices are an ongoing challenge in serving everyone who comes through the door asking for help.
Members of 23 central Ottawa churches (including several in Centretown) volunteer to supply food, advice, and financial donations on a weekly basis. Approximately 25 percent of what is needed comes from the Ottawa Food Bank, the rest from what our community provides.
In 2016, the centre needed $100,000, so extra fundraising is critical. Food drives in local grocery stores, schools, a grant from the City of
Ottawa, donations from generous individuals and now the walkathon allow the centre to remain open year round.
So here is your opportunity to help the Food Centre by joining this year’s walk on Sunday, October 21. Registration starts at 1:30 pm in the Jean Pigott Hall at City Hall, with local musicians contributing music before the walk begins at 2:00 p.m. with a piper to lead us off.
The route allows walkers to choose either to go below the Peace Tower along the Ottawa River for a 3.5-kilometre walk or to go in front of Parliament Hill for a shorter walk — both great locations for a Sunday afternoon stroll. The two walks will begin and conclude at City Hall.
Our local city councillors, Catherine McKenney of Somerset Ward and David Chernushenko of Capital Ward, have been strong supporters of the Food Centre over the years. This year we are very grateful to Councillor Catherine McKenney who made space available for us at City Hall and will join us on one of the walks.
Patricia Marsden-Dole is a Centretown resident and a representative on the Centretown Churches Social Action Committee.