The Covid pandemic highlighted the urgent need to provide prepared meals to residents lacking cooking facilities (ie temporary shelters), prevented from preparing healthy meals by illness or stress, or lacking financial means to purchase safe and nutritious food.

Ottawa Cares responded with 'Dinner is Served'!

We reach residents in need through their children. Schools, after-school programs, and children's recreation providers partner with us to identify families who would benefit from prepared meals, while protecting their privacy and dignity. When we feed a hungry child, we also feed the rest of their family!

Meals are prepared in a not-for-profit kitchen, and packaged to be taken home. Meals are ordered and distributed weekly.

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Bravo to In It Live, local technology firm, who is pivoting their special event software to help meet the need for food bank hamper deliveries.

Food bank hampers arrive at resident’s doorsteps – but not without many steps before!

1. Volunteers are recruited, and trained in Covid-prevention protocols

2. Daily deliveries are received from food bank.

3. Calculations are made to determine how many vehicles are needed to accommodate the number of food hampers on delivery. (Every volunteer drives a different vehicle!)

4. Volunteers sign up for the specific delivery date.

5. Addresses are divided up between drivers to create the most efficient route.

6. Routes are provided to drivers.

7. Maps are available to drivers.

What if a technology solution would make each step faster and easier?

This is what In It Live has been working on, with the support of our Volunteer Coordinator, Supervisor, technology consultant and humanitarian aid consultant. A field-tested app is nearly ready for food banks everywhere!

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Ottawa Cares was launched in April 2020 because there was a need for a community- and city ward-wide response.

Many businesses and organizations successfully pivoted unused resources to new uses. The Manor Park Community Council (MPCC) pivoted a ‘work-from-home’ management team to the Ottawa Cares project.

The MPCC team worked with talented local volunteers from across our city ward: humanitarian aid professionals, and technology experts. Soon the project to deliver food bank hampers to residents grew to include delivery of prepared meals, managing nearly 170 volunteers, and developing software solutions to help.

With an 86% drop in revenue, the MPCC was looking for new funding sources to keep the team going.

We owe a debt of gratitude to the McConnell Foundation who awarded an emergency grant to the Rideau-Rockcliffe Community Resource Centre (RRCRC) to kick off the food hamper deliveries. The Government of Canada, through the Red Cross stepped up next with grants for prepared meals, hamper deliveries, wages and supports for programs to promote wellness in the community. Red Cross funding continues until the end of May 2021.

Meanwhile, we are grateful to the Ottawa Food Bank for their efforts to secure emergency funding to continue food hamper deliveries. Our fingers are crossed for support from Second Harvest to continue providing prepared meals. But the most important news is that we are seeking multi-year sustainable funding.

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