Food banks across Canada are continuing to see record numbers of monthly users, as a new survey tells us that food banks and other non-profit food organizations are serving 60 percent more people than they did a year ago.
“This is why I started a food charity,” says Leah Dyck, Founder of Fresh Food Weekly, a food security program that delivers fresh and locally sourced food to low-income families on a biweekly basis. “It’s super needed, and this problem of food insecurity is only getting a lot worse.”
Back in June 2022, Dyck decided to start raising money so she could purchase staple food items in bulk, such as milk, butter, cheese, eggs and meat, and give them to residents of Barrie who couldn’t afford groceries. “The response to my fundraising efforts has been overwhelming”, she says. “And thank God for that.”
Having raised nearly $97,000 since launching the meal box delivery program a year ago, Dyck has no intentions of slowing down anytime soon. “It’s actually been really incredible to watch from a front-row seat,” she says.
“In April, a tobacco company called JTI-Macdonald Corp., headquartered in Mississauga reached out by email saying they just did an internal holiday campaign for Easter and voted on Fresh Food Weekly to be the recipient charity of $5K. It came in as a total surprise as I didn’t know anyone who worked there. I Googled the company and saw that they’ve donated to the Mississauga Food Bank in the past and it really made me feel good knowing they care this much about food insecurity in particular that they would give that much money. I also assumed they must have at least one staff member who’s heard about me, and perhaps my own story.”
Dyck has been living in Barrie public housing for the last 14 years and knows first-hand what it’s like to work all the time and still not have enough money to pay for food. “I’m a passionate advocate for systemic change and my goal is to help people understand the real reasons that poverty exists.”
Father’s Day Prize Pack Raffle Draw Contest
Running Fresh Food Weekly is Dyck’s full-time job, although she doesn’t get paid to do this work, she works towards raising money to feed 76 low-income families who would otherwise not be able to eat every day.
She currently has a Father’s Day Raffle Draw Fundraiser going on to help her reach the milestone goal of $100,000 [raised in the first 12 months of fundraising]. The contest’s prizes range from a travel barbecue (donated by Napoleon), to Toronto Blue Jays tickets, to every dad’s favourite tools, to a Flying Monkey’s beer prize pack (donated by Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery), to a gift certificate to Thorganic Farms, a local butcher shop.
The retail value of this Father’s Day prize pack is $1,150 and tickets can be purchased through the Fresh Food Weekly website for $10 for one ticket or $20 for three. This raffle draw is only available to residents of Barrie or to people who live within 50km of the city. Fresh Food Weekly is also raffling off a signed John Tavares jersey that was donated directly from Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment and is available to anyone to enter. Both raffle draws are taking place on June 8th, which is 10 days before Father’s Day.
Corporate Sponsorship Program Fresh Food Weekly is also launching a corporate sponsorship program for businesses to sponsor low-income families with fresh food.
“I’ve created different sponsorship tiers in which a company can choose from,” says Dyck. “And in return for their sponsorship, they’ll be recognized in the community as “do-gooders” through various media assets including Springwater Neighbours magazine, Farm View Newspaper, BarrieToday.com, and even some digital billboards in Barrie.”
Consumers want to know that companies are supporting the communities they do business in and Dyck hopes this corporate sponsorship program will act as a conduit between the community and businesses who serve the area. She also hopes it will improve sustainability so she can transition to weekly deliveries instead of biweekly deliveries.