Announcing the 2023 Food Bank Award Winners!

At Food Banks Canada, we are committed to supporting our national network of 4,750 food banks and community agencies in identifying opportunities for innovation, and championing their ability to be nimble, creative, and forward thinking.

That is why we are thrilled to announce the winners of the 2023 Food Bank Awards, who were recently recognized and celebrated at Food Banks Canada’s 2023 National Conference in Edmonton, Alta.

Open to food banks that have participated in our annual HungerCount survey for the last five years or more, the awards offer a platform to commemorate food banks for going above and beyond the core mission of providing food to those needing help; exploring innovation in the area of programming, technology or capacity building; demonstrating vision, leadership and passion for improving the quality of life for all people through food banking; and more.

This year, Food Banks Canada also established the Angela Jones Memorial Award in memory of Angela Jones, a dedicated member of Food Banks Canada staff from 2017 to 2021. Angela held the position of National Food Sharing Co-ordinator and provided unwavering leadership in logistics during her time at Food Banks Canada.

We are proud to honour Angela Jones’ legacy by recognizing individuals who share her diligence, dedication and leadership in all aspects of logistics.

And the winners are…

Excellence in Food Banking Award

The Excellence in Food Banking Award honours the most outstanding affiliate food bank or direct affiliate food bank in the Food Banks Canada network for going above and beyond the core mission of providing food to those needing help.  Award recipients play an instrumental role in improving the communities they serve through creative, efficient and successful programs and services and exemplify the highest standards of operation. 

2023 Excellence in Food Banking Award Recipient (large): North York Harvest Food Bank

North York Harvest Food Bank believes that food banks need to address poverty at its root. To do so, the North York Harvest Food Bank has reimagined itself as a nonprofit food logistics company, leveraging a combination of social enterprise, social purpose real estate and workforce development in a unique model they refer to as “community wealth building.”

At the heart of their community wealth building model is social enterprise. North York Harvest provides food sourcing, procurement, logistics and storage services to over 170 community organizations across Toronto.

North York Harvest is also being recognized for offering their Leadership In Logistics workforce development program, which gives food bank clients an opportunity to participate in a four-week paid internship. 

Altogether, the inspiring team at North York Harvest sees their community wealth building model as a prototype for a more inclusive local economy, leveraging community power for sustainable, long-term solutions to poverty.

2023 Excellence in Food Banking Award Recipient (medium): Kawartha Lakes Food Source

Kawartha Lakes Food Source is a staff of five that benefits from the support of over 100 volunteers. Their volunteers provide support to all aspects of operations including sorting donations, warehouse, food bank, gardening, driving, office support, food drives and more.

For 21 years, Kawartha Lakes Food Source has been serving their community as the central distribution centre that provides food to their seven member food banks plus their own food bank, 24 schools and six social service agencies. Additionally, they educate the community about hunger and advocate for positive change through partnerships.

Staff at Kawartha Lakes Food Source focus on donor stewardship activities each day to provide the confidence donors need in their agency, and their capacity has also increased with the development of their own programming over the past six years, including raised garden beds and a take-home meal box project to get client households cooking together more as a family.

Through funding from Food Banks Canada, Kawartha Lakes Food Source has partnered with their municipal housing corporation to provide single serve frozen meals to tenants. When the meals are available, the impact is significant, with a 50 per cent or more drop in disturbance calls to staff each day. The impact of these meals now has Kawartha Lakes Food Source leading discussions with other agencies, a local councilor and city management staff about how to further support tenants in the community.

2023 Excellence in Food Banking Award Recipient (small): Helping Hands Family Aid Food Bank

From the very first day the Helping Hands Family Aid Centre opened its doors, the Town of Marystown, N.L., its residents and the surrounding communities immediately realized the extreme importance of the services that this organization provides. Throughout the many years of its existence, thousands of disadvantaged residents from all over the Burin Peninsula have availed themselves of the services offered by Helping Hands.

During the pandemic, many individuals and families relied on Helping Hands to obtain basic necessities and keep their families clothed and fed, including those who never needed their services before. The Helping Hands Family Aid Centre is more than just a thrift store and food bank – they are neighbours helping neighbours, friends providing valuable community services.

Food Bank Innovator Award

The Food Bank Innovator Award recognizes an affiliate food bank or direct affiliate food bank in the Food Banks Canada network for innovation in the area of programming, technology or capacity building. The award recipient will have developed unique initiatives that improve their organization and/or their communities.

2023 Food Bank Innovator Award Recipient: Daily Bread Food Bank

Daily Bread Food Bank is developing and executing innovative programming, systems and processes that are having a direct and positive impact on the organization, their staff and volunteers, the communities they serve in Toronto, and food banking overall.

Through the Grassroots Capacity Building Program, Daily Bread Food Bank has invested in the organizational capacity of four grassroots agencies in its network. This program has provided grassroots leaders with mentorship, workshops, and skills development with a particular focus on governance, fundraising, anti-oppression fundamentals, volunteer management, and more.

Beyond the success of this innovative program, Daily Bread Food Bank is a leader in the provincial and national food bank networks and a valued partner in our collective work to address and end hunger and poverty. Food Banks Canada is proud to work alongside Daily Bread Food Bank and for the invaluable contributions it makes to innovation and efficiency in food banking.

Ed Bloos Memorial Award

The Ed Bloos Memorial Award is named after Ed Bloos, who founded the Regina Food Bank in 1982 and was instrumental in organizing the earlier provincial association in Saskatchewan. He worked for many years with the Canadian Association of Food Banks, now Food Banks Canada, having been part of the development of the association itself and in setting up the National Food Sharing System. Ed’s dedication and commitment to helping people, and his tireless work ethic ensured that everyone had food to put on the table. His vision of feeding people and educating them helped to improve their quality of life.

We are proud to honour Ed Bloos’s legacy by recognizing individuals who also share his dedication and emulate his commitment to the food banking movement.

2023 Ed Bloos Memorial Award Recipient: June Muir, UHC Hub of Opportunities

For the last 22 years, June Muir of the UHC – Hub of Opportunities in Windsor, Ont. has dedicated herself and her career to food banking, demonstrating vision, leadership, and passion by advocating and implementing food initiatives for those experiencing food insecurity at the local, provincial, and national level.

In her role as CEO, June has grown the UHC substantially with programming and food initiatives to serve the most vulnerable in Windsor-Essex County and beyond. This includes the addition of a community kitchen, community garden, a mobile food bank that serves low-income neighbourhoods on weekends, a Farm to Food Program that has provided 2 million servings of soup, a Plentiful Harvest Food Rescue Program that has rescued 29 million pounds of food, and her newest initiative, the Leamington Regional Food Hub, to address food insecurity from nation to nation while preventing waste.

These initiatives were once only dreams of June’s, but because of her passion and commitment to reducing food insecurity, along with her exceptional ability to collaborate and secure funding through all levels of government, they became a reality. June will continue with her vision and use her voice so that others can benefit from these unique programs as well as create change to improve the food banking system across Canada.

Angela Jones Memorial Award

Named after Angela Jones, a dedicated member of Food Banks Canada staff from 2017 to 2021 who held the position of National Food Sharing Co-ordinator, the Angela Jones Memorial Award recognizes the outstanding achievement of an individual in logistics in support of their food bank operations. This individual demonstrates diligence, passion, attention to detail and leadership in the execution of logistical solutions supporting their food bank and community.

2023 Angela Jones Memorial Award Recipient: Wes Graham, Kamloops Food Bank

Wes Graham may be the Operations Manager of the Kamloops Food Bank, but he was nominated for the inaugural Angela Jones Memorial Award by the Lake Country Food Bank in the Okanagan.

The Lake Country Food Bank began working with the Kamloops Food Bank in 2016 – an evolution they attribute in large part to Wes and his fundamental sharing of knowledge on how to disburse food. 

According to the Lake Country Food Bank, Wes has been a mentor that has shared his understanding of partner building with them, providing helpful job descriptions, procedures, spreadsheets and processes, and even inspiring them to develop the lower level of their food bank to create a food recovery centre that mirrored the Kamloops operation.

In addition to providing valuable administrative and technical knowledge, Wes has helped transport and distribute perishable food throughout the Okanagan Valley during peak produce months and overseen the distribution of pallets of products destined to food banks impacted by wildfires and flooding.

The positive impact of Wes’s contributions on the Lake Country Food Bank’s network and in the households of those they serve cannot be overstated.

Well done to all the nominees and congratulations to the winners!