A west end Ottawa Food bank is saying thanks but no thanks to food it considers unhealthy. Kraft Dinner, hotdogs and dozens of other items will be sent back.   It's a controversial approach to a touchy subject about donating food.  The bottom line for the Parkdale Food Centre is that everybody deserves good quality food, even those who can't afford to buy it.  The coordinator of the Food Centre, Karen Secord, carries two boxes onto a back shelf and explains why the contents of those boxes will not be making it onto the shelves here. Some items, like an already-opened salad dressing, are well past their "due" date.

“September 20, 2008,” she explains as she places it back in the box.

Other items won’t do simply become they are not considered nutritious.

“Dunkaroos, I wouldn't give that out,” says Secord, “it’s not part of a healthy diet.  And this, I don't know what that is but I wouldn't give it out,” she explains as she holds up four packages of candy and an opened container of Hot Rods.

“It is sending the message out to people that you are not worth it, that your health isn't worth as much as my health is worth,” she says.

Secord believes everyone deserves good food and the clients at her food bank are no exception. 

They obviously agree.

“Who wants to live on Kraft Dinner,” says client Annabelle Biefer, “sure enough not us,” she laughs.

So, yes, KD is on the bad list.  She says it's returned to the Ottawa Food Bank if that's where it came from.

“I don't want canned stew, alphagetti, pop, chips, candy, hot dogs.  I do want good food, eggs, milk, cheese and yogurt would be absolutely wonderful.”

Those coming here say healthy food choices have made a world of difference.

 “Well I'm a lot healthier,” says client Rachelle Larabie, “as you can see I used to be a lot smaller than this,” she laughs,” but this is great.”

Joeann Tourangeau, who has come to the food bank with her granddaughter adds, “We are people who would like to eat properly and feel better about ourselves and by eating better, you feel better.”

Secord says it's not just about giving people good food though; it's about teaching them what to do with that food. So she has paired up with some local chefs to teach her clients how to prepare good healthy meals. On the menu this week is how to prepare fish.

 “I come here to learn how to cook,” says Suraiya Muhebzada, “because I really don't know how to cook.”

The Food Centre has started a "Good Food Committee" to work on educating local donors and involving the local community.  And it's working, with donations of organic beef, even halal chicken.  Secord knows she may be ruffling some feathers this way but....

“That's what food is all about,” she adds, “Everything starts with good food.”

The Ottawa Food Bank says it's not aware of items that have been sent back from Secord.  But she is part of a working group with the Food Bank looking at all of the food being purchased and ditching some, like margarine for instance, in favor of fresh, nutritious produce. You can check out the Good Food List on the Parkdale Food Centre's website.