Food Banker Spotlight – Sharon Palmer

We are always interested in hearing more about the individuals in food banking across Canada! This month, our spotlight is on Sharon Palmer from Barrie Food Bank.

What is your role in food banking?
Executive Director

Describe a typical day in one word. 

What was your inspiration to get involved in food banking?
I started volunteering at a Food Panty and enjoyed meeting the guests, hearing their stories and making a connection with them. I saw first-hand their gratitude for food support and how programming helped families integrate into the community. The experience motivated me to focus on the not-for profit sector for my career.

What is your greatest achievement in your current role?
I have only been in this role for a short time, but my immediate focus has been to reduce line ups, adding more intake workers and volunteers assisting guests. I have also made our processes more efficient and focused on health and safety protocols, to ensure our guests, staff and volunteers stay safe given the pandemic!

What is your greatest challenge in your current role?
I would like to shift from pre-packaged food hampers with some customization, to a self-serve shopping model. It will take some careful planning, and change management to re-organize our space, change our processes, and our staff and volunteer roles to make this system work. It is a big and exciting goal!

If you could have one wish granted that would address hunger in Canada what would it be?
I would like government to address the root causes of hunger by providing access to affordable housing, living wages, access to mental health supports, job training, etc..  Improvements in these areas will reduce food insecurity. 

Which talent would you most like to have?
I would like to be a great public speaker.

If you could tell your younger self advice, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to make a change at work or in life. Most things we do are not as risky as they may seem. I think sometimes in the past that I have over-emphasized the risks associated with change. 

Who are your heroes?  Fictional or real life
I am a fan of Michelle Obama. She is positive, smart, funny, open, real, and able to navigate very challenging situations with grace. I admire all those characteristics!

What is your idea of happiness?
I aspire to have moments of “joy” in my life vs “happiness”. I look to find joy in nature, music, in being in the company of friends and family and in work -particularly when collaborating with others to come up with new ideas, or solutions to problems or just in executing something really well.

What is your motto?
Let’s try it!

Something quirky about you that others may not expect or know?
I enjoy playing bluegrass music with friends. I am not a great musician, but I love music and being part of making music. It gives me great joy!

Your theme song?
Try A Little Kindness – check out the Jan Arden version with Doane Uschool.

Do you know a food bank or food banker that could be featured on our next Spotlight? Contact us at