An Ottawa non-profit organization has put out a call for proposals on creative new ways to make sure everyone in the city has a belly full of healthy and nutritious food — and the winner will receive a $125,000 grant to make it a reality.

The Community Foundation of Ottawa has a history of handing out smaller grants, between $8,000 and $10,000, to food security projects, said charity head Marco Pagani. But as food bank use continues to grow, the foundation decided to launch the New Leaf Community Challenge in the hopes of attracting more ambitious proposals, he said.

"This one is kind of an opportunity to do something we're calling systemic, maybe strategic, maybe out of the box a little bit. We're really looking at sustainable impact," Pagani said. "This is not about funding another round-table discussion. This is not about analysis."

Pagani said he already knows that food bank use has risen 12 per cent over the past three years. He said the proposals need to address the fact that more than 75,000 people in Ottawa cannot afford nutritious, healthy food.

"That's blows my mind, that number," Pagani said. "This is about moving the needle."

A panel of judges will assess the top three proposals after the challenge closing date on Sept. 15. The winner will receive a $125,000 grant, Pagani said.  

"We're just encouraging people to tap into their creativity and their innovation and come with really wild ideas. The one that makes the most sense is the one I believe the jury will select as the winner," he said.