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Ottawa Food Bank receives largest donation in its 40-year history

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The Ottawa Food Bank has received the single largest donation in its 40 years of operation.

Humanitarian organization Khalsa Aid Canada teamed up with the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board to gather 15,000 pounds of food.

Donation dollars were stretched with the help of grocery supplier Italfoods. Together, they were able to deliver 210,000 pounds of food to the Bantree Street warehouse on Saturday afternoon.

Volunteers and students formed a human conveyor belt to unload one of the trucks filled with food, shuttling the donations inside to be stocked by food bank employees.

"We've never seen this amount of food being donated to us in one day," said Ottawa Food Bank CEO Rachael Wilson. "It will mean that individuals can rely on their local foodbank and ensure that they have enough food for their families."

It shatters the previous record of 182,000 pounds set back in 2013. This most recent donation comes out to about 420,000 meals to go to kids in need, as vital school breakfast and lunch programs go offline for the summer.

"36 per cent of food bank users are children," said Khalsa Aid regional director Mandeep Singh. "Those are children that wake up hungry and go to sleep hungry every single day."

Singh says it is that statistic that drove Khalsa Aid to try to break the donation record, but he attributes the initiative’s success to the many OCDSB students that helped spread the idea in their classrooms.

"They were raising food donations, they were doing picnics to raise money - we even had many Grade 1 and kindergarten students give one or two dollars from their allowance as a part of the food drive," Singh said.

"I feel amazing helping people in need and doing this to help people who aren’t as lucky as I am," Avalon Public School student Blake Maillet told CTV News on Saturday.

The day’s event caught the attention of city officials and dignitaries, including Mayor Mark Sutcliffe, with words from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau read to the crowd.

"We think that if we knock on more doors, pick up the phone and call, it's going be easy to shatter maybe even the world record next year," said Singh.

This latest surge of optimism has fueled the food bank’s goal of eliminating food insecurity in Ottawa by 2050, though Wilson says it will only come to fruition through similar community efforts.

"There's no provincial and federal funding for food banks in Ottawa or Ontario for that matter," she said. "We received about 98 per cent of our funding and food from the community. We really rely on the community and hope they'll continue to support us."

In February, the Ottawa Food Bank received a $100,000, which is a one time grant to support its programs and services -- Trillium Grant. 

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