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Barrie Food Bank counts on chickens to go down the hatch

Bradford chicken farmer says it's a 'humbling experience' to see how their donations help people in need

Chicken farmers and the Barrie Food Bank flocked together today to show how the partnership between the two has benefitted the community.

The Chicken Farmers of Ontario (CFO) Cares - Farmers to Food Banks program was highlighted Friday at the Barrie Food Bank on Anne Street, as volunteers and food bank staff met to thank the farmers who take part in the program.

Almost 500 family farms participate in Farmers to Food Banks, which sees a much-needed healthier option of chicken being given out to those who rely on the food banks for meals.

Bryan Fieldhouse, who owns a chicken farm in Bradford, was one of the farmers on hand today and said he was happy to see what effect his 700 kilograms of donated chicken has each year on food-bank users.

“It's great to give back. It is something that has to be done,” Fieldhouse said.

“This is a great program and serves many well, as we can tell being in this facility," he added. "I’m learning lots here today, just seeing what happens on this end. We just donate our chickens and that’s it for us, so seeing where they go and who they help is a really humbling experience.”

Barrie Food Bank executive director Peter Sundborg told BarrieToday that the donated chicken allows the food bank to help not just more people, but also in a healthier way.

“The Chicken Farmers of Ontario donate chickens to all food banks across the province on a fairly regular basis and we are one of the ones who benefit from that generosity,” Sundborg said. “In the last year or so, we have received almost 10,000 pounds of chicken, which for us is great. We can add that to our grocery order so people leaving the food bank are leaving with healthier food.

"Chicken, fresh produce and dairy are some of the better options we are able to provide for those who need it. Giving back is great, but giving back a healthier diet is awesome," Sundborg added. 

The announcement came on a hot July morning, when most people aren't thinking about the local food bank.

“People are hungry 12 months of the year; hunger doesn’t take a vacation,” Sundborg said. “It is really important if people can make donations year-round, because it helps so many folks in need."

The Barrie Food Bank serves around 2,800 people every month, through its grocery and morning drop-in programs.

"Those numbers haven’t really changed for us and have kept steady," Sundborg said.