Each year, Algonquin College’s Public Relations program selects a charity to support through a dedicated campaign. Students are divided into teams and each pitches a charity to their classmates, who vote on the winner. This year, the selected charity is the Ottawa Food Bank and, for the first time ever—thanks to COVID-19—all aspects of their campaign, #CraveCompassion, are being conducted online.
The class is divided into six teams, with each heading up a fundraising initiative as part of the campaign. Anu Sharma is campaign manager and captain of the Cook with Compassion team, whose goal was to create and sell a digital cookbook. When I spoke to her earlier this week, she was thrilled to tell me that the overall campaign had already raised $7,000 of its $8,000 goal, just 10 days in, thanks in part to the launch of the Cook with Compassion digital cookbook last Friday.
“We wanted to make a unique cookbook with recipes from different chefs and home cooks around the world. We have recipes from Canada, India, Paris and Italy in the book. The seven of us have worked really hard to make it a multicultural mix,” says Sharma. She adds that the initial goal was to get eight to 10 recipes for the book but, in the end, they received 30, in both video and written formats.
The team designed the cookbook themselves, including editing the videos and pulling together images that accompany these recipes. Last week’s online launch event was attended by many of the book’s international contributors, who spoke about their experience and applauded the cause. “For them to feel for people in Ottawa who are not getting food—this is a win for us,” says Sharma. She tells me that during the pandemic, calls to the Food Bank have increased by 500 per cent, with many more Ottawans in need of food support, but that their volunteers stepped up to meet that demand. “They are doing such an amazing job.”
Because every dollar donated to the Food Bank allows them to purchase and distribute five dollars’ worth of food, Sharma says their $8,000 goal will actually equal $40,000 in food support to those who need it.
Cook with Compassion is available now for digital download with a minimum donation of $25 to the Food Bank. Sharma says it “celebrates food, family, love, togetherness—that’s what food is about.” The recipes selected for the book are ones that can be cooked with ingredients families might receive from the Food Bank, meaning they are quite accessible. So if you’re sick of quarantine-cooking the same five things, you can get your hands on some new multicultural recipes and do something good for our community at the same time.
Sharma and her classmates, for their part, are thrilled with what they’ve been able to achieve so far. “We are very proud that in the beginning of our careers we are able to do something for our community. I feel honoured.”
Visit the Cook with Compassion website to receive a download of the digital cookbook with a minimum $25 donation.