By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario - The pot has been stirred on whether or not food banks should accept Kraft Dinner donations - and the Agape Centre has chimed in: we do...for now.
In an interview with CTV News, Ottawa's Parkdale Food Centre declared food items like canned stew, Alpha-Getti, Kraft Dinner, pop, chips, and candy are unhealthy and, furthermore, unwanted.
Alyssa Blais, executive director of the Agape Centre, agrees that donations need to be healthier, but admits the centre isn't operationally ready to draw the line, yet.
"For now, we don't have a stance on KD, we'll accept it, but we are moving towards a healthier food policy," said Blais."It's not a judgment about the people who eat Kraft Dinner. We're trying to maximize nutritional value in terms of donations."
Over a year ago, the Agape Centre soup kitchen, which currently serves 120 meals a day, switched up its menu and discontinued dishes like KD and hot dogs.
"We changed to healthier food and more people came. Many of them wanted seconds because we're providing them with a highly nutritional meal," she said.
Roughly 35 baskets with three to five days worth of food are handed out daily at the Agape Centre
When deciding what to donate, Blais recommends following the Agape Centre's high-priority items list found on their website agapecentre.ca.
The list includes fresh vegetables and fruits, peanut butter (in high demand), school snacks, breakfast cereal, pasta and sauce, canned fruit, and canned tuna.
"If you're going to spend a few dollars on boxes of Kraft Dinner, please buy a bag of apples or donate the money instead," she said.
Thinking outside the grocery cart is another way to help feed the city.
Fresh produce grown in the Agape Centre's garden or donated by local farmers and greenthumbs have become the perfect ingredients in both the soup kitchen and food bank.
"If people are coming to the food bank it's because they're at the most critical moments of their life," said Blais. "We should be providing them with at least the most healthy and nutritional food possible."
To help clients eat healthy on a budget at home, free community cooking programs were also launched this summer.