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Cara-Leigh Wyllie stands holding the Kanata Food Cupboard sign, amongst a team of volunteers in the KFC's old warehouse at 340 Legget Drive.

For almost 30 years, the Kanata Food Cupboard has been a staple for families who need a little assistance to get by.

The organization was founded in 1985 when local churches reported a rise in calls for help. Since then demand has continued to grow as the cost of living increases.

“We used to say one in nine individuals were food insecure. We now say it’s one in seven,” said Cara-Leigh Wyllie, executive director of the Kanata Food Cupboard. “This first quarter we see about 405 families a month, which is about 1700 individuals. It’s record-breaking. Year over year we’ve seen a 20 per cent increase.”

When Wyllie first became involved with the Food Cupboard in 2017, about 235 families — or 750 individuals — relied on the program for food support.

“Food insecurity exists everywhere. It could be your next door neighbor. It’s not necessarily people who live in the inner city,” added Wyllie. “It’s happening here in the suburbs as well. A misconception is it’s people who aren’t employed. We’ve seen a lot of cases where they have a good income but just can’t get ahead.”

Interior of the Kanata Food Cupboard's old location at 340 Legget Drive.

New space, new opportunity 

For the last 11 years, the Kanata Food Cupboard has been operating out of 340 Legget Drive. But due to a new tenant securing the space, in July it is gearing up to move to a new home at 1240 Teron Drive.

While the relocation will signify a new chapter, it will also mean changes to how the food-providing service works.

The new space will allow for more industrial-type storage, with investments being made in a racking system for inventory. Smaller square footage will also mean a new way for sorting food.

“Right now we keep all our sorting for Wednesdays. On that day a team comes in and does a large sorting session. We won’t get to do that anymore due to the limited space so we will now be doing it daily,” said Wyllie. “For that reason we are going to need more volunteers to help with the daily operations.”

The Food Cupboard runs much like a grocery store. Almost every weekday, clients are invited into the space by appointment only for an in-person shopping experience.

Volunteers take them around the facility where they are able to pick their own items off the shelves.

“They are given an allotment card based on their family size,” said Willie. “It’s a great process because you can pick up things that your family likes and uses. It cuts down on waste and takes into account diverse needs.”

A caring community 

Wyllie said the Kanata North Business community has always been supportive of its initiatives. Corporate teams have sent their teams for afternoon volunteer sessions, and local companies have helped communicate the important work the Kanata Food Cupboard does on a daily basis.

The Ciena team, based out of Kanata North, volunteered at the Kanata Food Cupboard and sorted over 8,000 pounds-worth of charitable donations.

As operations get ready to move, the Kanata Food Cupboard is looking for any filing cabinets or office equipment local businesses might be interested in donating.

“We are very fortunate here in Kanata to have a wonderful community that supports us.  With the move we have a lot of additional expenses, and our donors have done a great job filling in some of the gaps,” said Wyllie.

Anyone who is looking to support the Kanata Food Cupboard in any way can visit its website at

By Charlie Senack, Ottawa Business Journal

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