We are always interested in hearing more about the individuals in food banking across Canada! This month, our spotlight is on Michael Maidment of Ottawa Food Bank in Ottawa, ON.
What is your role in food banking?
I am the executive director of the Ottawa Food Bank and board member of the Ontario Association of Food Banks. I am also a member of the Task Force for Network Wide Effectiveness and a member of the Food Banks Canada Strategic Planning committee.
Describe a typical day in one word.
What was your inspiration to get involved in food banking?
I grew up in a small town in Newfoundland and Labrador where one of the most important principles is helping your neighbours and community. Those values stuck with me and about 10 years ago I realized that my career didn’t provide me with the opportunity to contribute to my community in the way I wanted. That prompted me to change my career direction completely, moving into the non-profit sector.
What is your greatest achievement in your current role?
My greatest achievement in this role so far was the launch of our HealthSmart initiative in 2017 that invested nearly $400,000 annually in improving the nutritional quality of the non-perishable food the OFB provides, investments in our farming project to increase the amount of fresh produce we grow, doubling the amount of milk and ground beef we provide in addition to purchasing and distributing fish for the first time and increasing an investment in our ReFresh program that distributes fresh produce during the winter months.
What is your greatest challenge in your current role?
The greatest challenge is identifying solutions that can have an impact on the root cause of food bank usage while continuing to ensure that families facing food insecurity have access to the healthy and nutritious food they need.
If you could have one wish granted that would address hunger in Canada what would it be?
My one wish would be that the federal and provincial governments across Canada would create policy that effectively and measurably reduces poverty – the root cause of hunger in this country. Current social assistance and affordable housing policy; two of the largest drivers of poverty in Canada are insufficient, forcing people to turn to food banks to fill the income gap.
Which talent would you most like to have?
More musical talent. I would have loved to be a professional musician.
If you could tell your younger self advice, what would it be?
I would have told myself to take learning and education more seriously – I took too long to figure that out!
Who are your heroes? Fictional or real life
Cindy Blackstock, who is the Executive Director, First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, Professor, School of Social Work, McGill University and a tireless advocate for child protection and Indigenous children’s rights in Canada. She is brilliant, tenacious and caring and I would love to meet her!
My grandmother Eva Maidment, who has been a very influential person in my life and the person who, along with my parents, taught me how important it is to be empathetic and caring.
What is your idea of happiness?
Canoeing or kayaking on a warm summer evening in Algonquin Park.
What is your motto?
Anything is possible, it’s just a formula of time, resources and effort
Something quirky about you that others may not expect or know?
I grew up in an apartment above a funeral home that my father ran. My first job was selling headstones.
Your theme song?
Ordinary Day – Great Big Sea
Do you know a food bank or food banker that could be featured on our next Spotlight? Contact us at email@example.com.