Residents of Ottawa's west side will have one fewer resource to fill their pantries as of early February.
The Parkdale Food Centre says it's closing its indoor community freezer, fridge and pantry at 30 Rosemount Ave., citing demand that's exceeding its staff's capacity to fill and manage them.
"It's been in discussions for over a year," said Beth Ciavaglia, the centre's new executive director. "We've had meetings with the neighbours to discuss other ways we could make it work."
The indoor community fridge first opened in 2015 with the idea that it would be filled with scrumptious leftovers from cooking classes, local restaurants and community members.
It also offered leftovers from community meals held by the centre.
In an email on Tuesday, Ciavaglia said the majority of food consisted of "rescued produce" purchased by the charity at a discount from grocers. The majority of the centre's limited budget comes from fundraising.
In 2021, while the centre was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an outdoor community fridge was added.
In a post on social media, the Parkdale Food Centre said it’s closing its indoor community freezer, fridge and pantry at 30 Rosemount Ave., citing higher demand than its staff can manage. (Francis Ferland/Radio-Canda)
The centre's community drop-in space only reopened for sit-down meals in June 2022.
In March 2023, the centre announced its outdoor fridge would close, citing "increase in incidents" and eroded "safety and inclusivity" among its reasons.
The centre's indoor fridge, freezer and pantry will close on Feb. 8.
Sadaf Ebrahim, founder of the non-profit organization Feed Ottawa, called it sad news.
"People [in the] surrounding area are depending on them," she said by phone on Monday. "People are already struggling."
Ebrahim's organization has its own outdoor pantries in Barrhaven that she says need to be restocked twice weekly, sometimes more often.
"Food insecurity can affect anyone," she said.
Grocery program nearby
Ciavaglia said the centre will redirect clients to their grocery program known as Mino'Weesini, which continues to provide emergency food support at its nearby location on Hamilton Avenue N. She said staff will now refocus their attention to that program, which is seeing record numbers.
In a social media post, the centre said it's hoping the closure will allow for more enjoyable community meals and "enhanced one-on-one support" at the Rosemount location.
"I don't want the community to think, or especially our neighbours to think this is a loss of service," Ciavaglia said. "Really, it's just a shifting of service."
Ciavaglia said the fridge was stocked weekly and when the food was gone, it was gone. The grocery program is easier to replenish, she said, so people coming in know they'll be able to access food.
"We continue to be here for the neighbours. We're doing everything in our power with the finances that we have," she said.