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Ontario Association of Food Banks honours Gay Lea Foods and Dairy Farmers of Ontario

The Ontario Association of Food Banks (OAFB) has announced Dairy Farmers of Ontario and Gay Lea Foods Co-operative Limited (Gay Lea Foods) as the recipients of the 2018 Paul Mistele Memorial Award. Last year, in recognition of Canada150, Dairy Farmers of Ontario donated an incredible $150,000 over three years, and Gay Lea Foods committed to providing at-cost products for five years in support of Ontario’s food bank network.

Named for the late farm leader who founded Ontario Pork’s Donate-A-Hog program in 1998, the Paul Mistele Memorial Award recognizes agricultural partners who have shown a significant and enduring commitment to ending hunger in Ontario. The award was presented to Dairy Farmers of Ontario and Gay Lea Foods on November 1st, 2018 at Farm & Food Care Canada’s annual Harvest Gala.

“On behalf of the provincial food bank network, we would like to thank Dairy Farmers of Ontario and Gay Lea Foods for their incredible generosity and partnership,” says Carolyn Stewart, Executive Director of the OAFB. “We are honoured to present both of these organizations with the Paul Mistele Memorial Award in recognition of their ongoing commitment to assisting families in need and local communities across the province.”

In addition to the Canada 150 gift, individual Ontario dairy farmers collectively donate, with the support of the Ontario Dairy Council and Ontario Milk Transport Association, almost one million litres of milk to the Ontario food bank network annually. Gay Lea Foods is also a longstanding supporter of Ontario’s annual milk donation program and a proud sponsor of the OAFB’s capacity building program, which provides food banks in Ontario with funding to grow their capacity to accept, store and distribute milk and fresh food.

“Dairy farmers across Ontario produce some of the highest quality milk in the world. I believe it is important to ensure everyone in Ontario has access to high-quality Canadian milk. Ontario Dairy farmers recognize how fortunate we are to be able to give back to our communities, with the support of the Ontario Dairy Council and Ontario Milk Transport Association. It’s our pleasure and honour to increase our commitment to the OAFB, and work on this initiative with Gay Lea Foods,” says Dairy Farmers of Ontario Chair, Ralph Dietrich. “By working together, I’m reminded of our core Canadian values and ongoing commitment to support our local community and families, achieving more than we ever could alone.”

“Gay Lea Foods is proud of this collaboration with Dairy Farmers of Ontario and the Ontario Association of Food Banks, which allows us to provide more nutritious Ontario milk and dairy products to those living with hunger in our province than any one of us could have done alone,” says Gay Lea Foods chair, Rob Goodwill, who accepted the award on behalf of the co-operative. “We’re pleased to be recognized alongside DFO for an initiative that exemplifies our co-operative values while supporting the very communities where our farmer members, employees and their families live, work and play.”

Past recipients of the Paul Mistele Memorial Award include the Ontario Dairy Council, Dairy Farmers of Ontario, and Ontario Milk Transport Association (2009); Nature Fresh Farms in Leamington (2010); Turkey Farmers of Ontario (2011); Whittamore’s Farm (2012); Ontario Pork, Zoetis, Shur-Gain, Elanco, Mable Honor Farm – The Fraser Family (2013), Egg Farmers of Ontario (2014), Beef Farmers of Ontario (2015), Chicken Farmers of Ontario (2016), and Stephen Thomas of Elanco (2017).

The Ontario Harvest Gala, attended by 300 farmers and agricultural industry supporters, is organized annually by Farm & Food Care Canada. Farm & Food Care Canada develops and supports programs to communicate with Canadians, thus helping to build confidence and trust in food and farming.


About the OAFB

The Ontario Association of Food Banks is the province’s leading provider of emergency food support to frontline hunger-relief agencies and the leader in province-wide hunger research. Our mission is to strengthen communities by providing food banks with food, resources, and solutions that address both short and long-term food insecurity. For every $1 donated, the Ontario Association of Food Banks can provide the equivalent of 3 meals to someone in need. To learn more, please visit:

About Dairy Farmers of Ontario

Dairy Farmers of Ontario is the marketing group for the largest sector of Ontario agriculture. We are proudly owned and operated by the farm families of Ontario’s dairy farms. Visit to learn more.

About Gay Lea Foods Co-operative Ltd.

Gay Lea Foods is as renowned for its co-operative-inspired values as it is for its high-quality, innovative and award winning dairy products. 100% Canadian-owned and operated, the co-operative is the first of its kind to include licensed dairy cow and dairy goat members, and processes both kinds of milk into a range of dairy products. Visit to learn more.

Contact Information

Amanda King, Director of Communications & Research, Ontario Association of Food Banks, 416-656-4100 x2932

Laural Adams, Communications Manager, Dairy Farmers of Ontario, 647-462-5559

Robin Redstone, Communications Manager, Gay Lea Foods Co-operative Ltd., 905-283-5208


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