Mayor Jim Watson and Kitchissippi Ward Councillor Katherine Hobbs today presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award to Ms. Karen Secord for her outstanding community service to families and individuals who are assisted by the Parkdale Food Centre food bank.

As coordinator of the Parkdale Food Centre, which is located in Mechanicsville, Ms. Secord has donated hundreds of hours of her time to enthusiastically transforming the facility into a multi-purpose food centre and neighbourhood food-education and gathering space.

In September, she told Ottawa Magazine that “We need sustainable solutions, not just poverty relief.”

To that end, she established the Parkdale Food Centre’s Nutrition Fund to help provide healthier, fresh foods to food bank clients. She tirelessly raises funds and awareness, and solicits donations from local food vendors. She reaches out to local chefs to provide cooking classes, and sends cooking students home at the end of their classes with the ingredients, utensils and even slow cookers to make it possible for them to cook nutritious and delicious fresh food from scratch.

This holiday season, she started a special fund to supply eggs, milk, yogurt and cheese to local people in need.

After noticing some of the food centre’s clients coming in wearing sandals in winter, she reached out to the local community for donations of warm clothing and footwear.

Ms. Secord has almost singlehandedly changed the conversation in Kitchissippi about what a food centre can, and should, be.