Growing food for those who need it most
Cumberland Councillor Stephen Blais and Captain Victoria Ryan of Soldiers Helping Soldiers (SHS) accepted the first donation of homegrown potatoes and children’s’ art work today to help homeless and troubled youth in Ottawa.
SHS started and tested a plan with some volunteers this summer to grow potatoes and other garden-fresh veggies to donate to homeless organizations that can use this food as part of their menu.
“It made sense to start with potatoes,” says Ryan. “They are easier to grow; they are consumed in the thousands of kilograms in our shelters and if we are able to donate this food, our shelters can divert financial resources elsewhere,” adds Ryan.
One of the testers was the Little School in Orléans. Together with volunteers in the community, the program learned best practices this summer with the intent to grow its outreach and total contribution of food next year.
The first recipient of the initial test year of potatoes grown is the Ottawa Inner city Ministries. The ministry will use the donation as part of its youth art program, which includes a meal afterward. Along with contributing food, the Little School in Orléans produced art to share with the youth. It is this little extra that Captain Ryan hopes to create a connection between the children that feeds an upward spiral of reinforcing positive value through inclusive efforts like this one.
“We are so very pleased to see the fruits of our labour reach the people who need it most”, says Ryan “and for making important community connections along the way.”
Captain Ryan founded Soldiers Helping Soldiers as some soldiers who left the military were ending up on the streets. SHS has gone beyond its original mandate and now supports five local agencies.
“Captain Ryan devoted herself to help find and get help to former soldiers who have fallen on hard times, and has decided to help others along the way,” says Blais. “This is an important initiative and I support her efforts,” he adds.