Ottawa Citizen

Food bank drives to meet March demand

Usually a lean month due to winter bills

- BY TARA AGHDASHLOO

To most people in Ottawa, March is associated with the promise of spring. For some, however, it’s more likely to mean empty fridges and food bank lines.

“You usually don’t pay your January or February hydro bills until March, and maybe some people even had a Christmas like everyone else,” says Peter Tilley, executive director of the Ottawa Food Bank, on the need for dona- tions this month.

This Saturday and Sunday, food bank volunteers will be at most local Loblaw, Superstore, and Metro grocery stores, handing out paper bags with a list of most-needed items. Those include canned fish and meat, canned vegetables and grains, baby formula and diapers, juice, rice, and soup. The drive will continue on April 3 and 10.

In March 2009, food banks assisted 794,738 people in Canada, an 18-per-cent in- crease over the year before and the largest year-over-year increase on record, according to a study conducted by Food Bank Canada.

Ontario saw a 19-per-cent jump in food bank usage. In Ottawa, it was a 9.7-per-cent increase.

According to Ottawa Public Health, the cost of nutritious food for a family of four for a week was $140.13, in 2008, the last year for which figures were available.

Food banks are for emergency food supplies only, offered once a month to those in need, and provide three to four days of groceries.

“We never want to see families or individual­s having to choose between if they can afford to eat or do they have to pay the hydro bill,” says Tilley.

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