Ottawa Kosher Food Bank prepares for Passover

Photo: Ottawa Kosher Food Bank Manager Dahlia Milech says those who want to sponsor a family for Passover or to make a donation, can visit here.

By Angelica Haggert

Preparing for Passover involves several steps: cleaning the house, planning the Seder, shopping for the best kosher chocolate … but at the Ottawa Kosher Food Bank, preparation looks a bit different.

Manager Dahlia Milech has been with the food bank for a few years and learns a little bit more about what her clients are looking for each year.

“The first year, I ordered quite a lot of kosher food and not all of it got taken,” said Milech. “Now we reach out to all the clients and ask if they have any specific requests for Passover items.”

Last year, grape juice was a big ask -- which Milech said is great, because it’s something you can also use all year.

“I’ll try to get whatever they ask for if they have specific requests, shopping to fill in the gaps of what’s donated.”

The food bank also provides gift cards to grocery stores and has added more to the amount for the month of Passover. Food bank clients receive chicken and beef every month in their normal packages and receive an extra chicken for Passover.

Since the beginning of the pandemic last year, the food bank has received almost $70K in funding from the Jewish Federation of Ottawa to help with increased and emergency needs. Serving more than 100 families, the food bank team is always hustling -- and while the extra attention to Passover doesn’t necessarily increase the amount of work there is to do, it does mean there are some added costs. Luckily, Milech said people have been very generous.

“People who can be are quite giving this year,” said Milech. “Last year, when people made donations, they said they couldn’t host their larger gatherings, so they were giving their extra to us -- something nice with some of those savings.”

Milech said the best way to help is to sponsor a family, for $72, but “any amount is helpful.”

“We’re trying to give more in gift cards to people, so they can get exactly what they appreciate the most.”

Being able to give gift cards also helps some clients take the help from the food bank with more ease -- it gives them more control and independence.

“Before the clients used to come in and pick their items out, so it was still a bit like shopping. Now because we do deliveries and a drive thru, we make up the bags ahead of the time for them,” said Milech. “They feel better to go on their own to pick up what they want -- we try to customize it, but it’s not the same thing.”

To sponsor a family for Passover or to make a donation, visit here.