On December 10, 2015, the Community Foundation of Ottawa presented a cheque for $125,000 to the West Carleton Healthy Food Coalition, EnviroCentre’s Sustain West Carleton initiative, and the Ottawa Good Food Box to improve food security in West Carleton, Ottawa’s largest municipal ward with limited access to fresh, affordable, healthy food. It was one of the top three proposals presented to a jury of community leaders and food experts at the Community Foundation of Ottawa’s second annual New Leaf Community Challenge at the Lansdowne Park Horticulture Building.

“All of the projects presented at the 2015 Challenge were highly creative, compelling and, most importantly, designed to make a measurable difference in our community over the long-term,” said Marco Pagani, President & CEO of the Community Foundation of Ottawa. “While I know it was a difficult decision, I am confident that the Transforming the Food System in West Carleton project will contribute to systemic, sustainable progress on food security in the Ottawa region.”

This second year of funding in support of a more food-secure Ottawa reflects the Community Foundation’s commitment to fostering systems-level progress on key issues affecting the city’s quality of life. The West Carleton food system proposal is a prime example of the type of innovative community collaboration the Foundation is pleased to support as it will focus on creating the needed infrastructure to improve food systems and food security in West Carleton by: establishing a new community root cellar that will enable area farmers to store their produce longer; creating a West Carleton Food Centre where local farmers can drop off their produce for redistribution; expanding the market share of local food through the Good Food Box (GFB) and local retailers; and expanding/strengthening the GFB program in the region.

The other top two projects selected to be presented at the 2015 Challenge included a youth-operated meal preparation and delivery service for seniors and disabled persons called FoodWorks, which was presented by Operation Come Home and Causeway Work Centre, as well as a hub for more efficient purchasing and distribution of food to the school breakfast program and other organizations, presented by Just Food and the Ottawa Network for Education.

Designed to inspire and support Ottawa’s non-profit sector in addressing Ottawa’s most pressing needs, the New Leaf Community Challenge has attracted a wide range of local champions and supporters. The Challenge jury was made up of such notable local leaders and food experts as Ottawa restaurateur Stephen Beckta; Medical Officer of Health Dr. Isra Levy; United Way Ottawa’s Paul Steeves; Community Foundation donor and public health expert David Sweanor; home economist and culinary expert Ellie Topp; Roots & Shoots Farm owner Robin Turner; and Farm Boy CEO Jeff York.

For more information about the New Leaf Community Challenge and the all of the 2015 finalist project submissions, visit www.cfo-fco.ca/new-leaf-community-challenge.