“There are thousands of people that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions. Many industries have hit rock bottom, like dry cleaners, servers, clothing retail staff and the list goes on. If someone doesn’t have the funds to buy food for their family, they end up at the Food Bank,” says Taha Zarrug, Network Analyst in Information Technology.
With the help of Executive Assistant Diana Wittman, Taha decided to take on a new kind of fundraiser to aid the Ottawa Food Bank – a recipe booklet composed of recipes contributed by members of Information Technology was created and sold. All profits made from the sales of the booklets were donated to the organization to aid those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sales made from the book totalled $1795, the equivalent of $8975 in buying power, which will help provide 747 meals to hungry families, or 2991 healthy meals to hungry children.
“Unfortunately, this past year the Food Bank has seen a major decline in donations and a major increase in demand as more people are in need. Some are community members that have given to the Food Bank year after year. We, at the University, are extremely fortunate to still have a job, a regular pay cheque, and a roof over our heads so we should help the community as much as we can,” Taha elaborates.
The idea came about as a way to keep people connected and encourage well-being. This led to the organization of a Recipe Exchange Coffee Break, where attendees would bring one recipe to contribute to the booklet. “[The event] really allowed people to get away from and forget about the daily stress of work, and to enjoy time to discuss something that has brought people together since the beginning of time,” says Cynthia Soto Cancino, Administrative Assistant, who contributed a recipe.
“I saw this event as an opportunity to share some of our family recipes, but also some of the stories that come with them. It was such a pleasure to hear others’ stories with their recipes, and learn a bit about them, their traditions, and their families,” says Kathleen Webster, Deputy Chief Information Officer. “This was definitely a feel-good opportunity and I am very grateful for having been invited to participate.”