Former Addict Gives Back to Help Hungry People During COVID-19

Former addict

Twelve years ago, Jay Barnard checked into The Salvation Army’s addiction recovery program at the Booth Centre in Ottawa. His alcohol and drug  abuse were out of control. Today, as a Red Seal chef with his own successful fresh water, inland fishing business, he is giving back to the organization who helped him reclaim sober living.

“The Salvation Army is at the forefront of my story,” says Jay. “I want to keep that going.”

Jay’s story of addiction goes back to the age of eight. First it was food, then it was alcohol. At age 12, he smoked marijuana for the first time and two years later was selling it on the streets. It wasn’t long before he was using harder drugs.

“The Salvation Army is at the forefront of my story.”

In his 20s, and at one of his lowest points, Jay attempted suicide. After three days in hospital, he was released, only to attempt to poison himself again. Not long after, he found the strength to ask for help.

“The Salvation Army helped me gather the tools that I needed to have this recovery and this life that I’ve always wanted but didn’t know how to get,” says Jay.

Jay says that The Salvation Army became family to him and throughout the years has turned to them for advice, direction and sometimes just a listening ear. When he heard of the increase in demand for help at Salvation Army food banks, he reached out to help.

“I wanted to do something positive in the midst of a negative time.”

“Owning a food processing company, I wanted to do something positive in the midst of a negative time,” says Jay.

Freshwater Cuisine is an innovative freshwater fish processing company, and in early April more than 4,000 fillets of fish were shipped to The Salvation Army in Toronto for distribution to its food banks. That means 1,000 people will benefit from Jay’s generosity.

Glenn and Jay

Glenn and Jay

“At a discounted price to The Salvation Army, families and individuals will eat fresh fish that ultimately came as a result of Jay’s journey to recovery, which started at The Salvation Army,” says Glenn van Gulik, area director for public relations. “We are grateful to partner with Jay in giving those affected by COVID-19 food, help and hope.”

The Salvation Army continues to provide essential services across Canada throughout the COVID-19 crisis. To donate, visit or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY.

By Linda Leigh