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Gay Lea Foundation announces 13 new charitable grants

The Gay Lea Foundation is pleased to announce 13 new charitable grants supporting education, poverty relief, and/or community well-being projects in Canada, Africa, and South America.

The grants were approved by the Foundation board in late April, bringing total donations from the charitable organization to more than $340,000 in Gay Lea Foods’ Fiscal 2023 year.

Since its creation in 2014, the Gay Lea Foundation has now awarded more than $2.4 Million in charitable grants to more than 130 registered Canadian charities providing important humanitarian support to communities in Canada, Haiti, Central America, Asia, and Africa. Funding for the grants is provided by an annual $150,000 contribution from Gay Lea Foods and further subsidized through elective employee payroll deductions and organized employee fundraising activities held during Co-op Week.

Read on to learn about the latest projects supported by the Gay Lea Foundation!



The Africa Community Technical Service Society – or “Acts for Water”, as it is commonly known – partners with rural communities in Uganda to deliver life-saving clean water through a sustainable water delivery technology called Gravity Flow Systems (GFS). The organization also builds latrines and provides infrastructure and education to reduce disease transmission, promote sustainability, and empower communities to lift themselves out of poverty. Visit

Project: Ibanda District Villages Water Project Uganda

Working with the local community, Act for Water will provide clean water, a comprehensive Water And Sanitation Hygiene (WASH) program, 25 safe latrines, and entrepreneurial training workshops to benefit 14,236 people living in severe poverty across 14 rural villages in Uganda.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $15,000 to support the construction of one 80 village tap stands (each serving a population of between 400-500 people a day) and provide critical hygiene and sanitation training to the community.



The Bright Lights for Africa Foundation works to tackle the root causes of poverty and empower underprivileged individuals to reach their full potential and contribute to a more equitable society. By developing opportunities and promoting economic growth, they aim to break the cycle of poverty and build stronger, more resilient communities. Visit

Project: Capitalization of Local-Breed Goat Farming Democratic Republic of Congo

With a goal to empower vulnerable women in the rural Musenge Village, Walikale Territory, Province of Nord Kivu in Democratic Republic Of Congo, this project will see 22 widows, divorcees and/or teenage mothers provided with the agricultural supplies and supports they need to become self-sufficient and financially independent through goat farming. Eventually, these women will each mentor one other vulnerable woman in their community and help them establish their own goat farming operation.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $22,136 to purchase 66 goats (two female and one male for each recipient), provide agricultural supplies and support, and deliver learning and development opportunities that include training in personal nutrition, livestock care (goat breeding, nutrition, and milking), and the goat business.



The Calgary Drop-In Centre welcomes those at risk of or experiencing homelessness in Calgary. Working collaboratively, they provide access to a spectrum of care that supports each person’s transition to the most independent living possible, including 24/7 low-barrier emergency shelter, nutritious meals, medical care, and affordable and supported housing. Visit

Project: Food Security Program Calgary, Alberta

The Food Security Program at the Calgary Drop-In Centre serves three meals a day to an average of 500 clients from their emergency shelter, including bagged lunches for clients who are at work or out of the shelter during the lunch hour.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $10,000 to sponsor 10 thoughtfully prepared and filling hot breakfasts over a 10-month period for emergency shelter clients (an estimated 6,500 meals).



Canadian Feed The Children (CFTC) is an award-winning registered Canadian charity that envisions a world where children thrive free from poverty. Taking action against childhood hunger for over 35 years, they partner with 30 Indigenous communities in Canada, as well communities in Bolivia, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Uganda, to drive community-based change through land-based education, food security, food sovereignty, climate action, gender equality, livelihoods, education and community engagement. Visit

Project: Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds for Indigenous Communities in Canada
Partnering with Indigenous communities across Canada, Canadian Feed The Children is helping transform local food systems and support sustainable, long-term food security by delivering land-based community education initiatives and school food programming that supports the healthy development of Indigenous children and youth, including school gardens, nutrition education, and food distribution programs.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $10,000 to support the expansion of CFTC’s work in Indigenous communities in Canada so that they may provide the assets, training, and support needed to help community members build a sustainable, culturally appropriate food system that leads to food security and food sovereignty for all.



Community Living North Halton (CLNH) works in partnership with families and communities to provide programs and services for more than 630 people with developmental disabilities in urban and rural areas of North Halton.  Visit

Project: Supportive Independent Living Program North Halton, Ontario

The Supportive Independent Living Program provides guidance and support to young adults with developmental disabilities to help them live independently. This includes budgeting support, safety food handling, transportation to and from medical appointments, housekeeping, safety and more.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $6,000 to purchase grocery gift cards to supplement the fixed income (Ontario Disability Supplements of approximately $1,000 a month) of 40 individuals with developmental disabilities who live semi-independently with assistance from CLNH. The cards will enable the purchase of nutritious food at difficult times, up to a maximum of $150 per person per year, with CLNH providing support for appropriate food purchases and cooking lessons to ensure a healthy diet on a limited budget.



Dawn House is a grassroots local charity providing women’s transitional housing programs in Kingston, Ontario. Dawn House has been providing women with a safe, home-like environment while offering counselling, training, and the necessary support to find pathways back into their community since 1986. Visit

Project: From Garden to Table and Beyond Kingston, Ontario

Poverty is the common denominator for many of the women that Dawn House serves and recent increases in food costs have exasperated the necessity of food sustainability for its 60+ residents. From Garden to Table and Beyond is a complete food production program that will incorporate planting, growing, harvesting, canning, and composting at Dawn House, while facilitating lifelong, positive, and health-promoting relationships with food production, social reciprocity, and wellness for clients.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $7,217 to purchase all supplies required, including raised garden beds, garden soil, tools, canning equipment, a composter, and an outdoor storage shed.



Founded in 1894, Fred Victor is a leader in the fight to end homelessness. Its mission is to improve the health, income, and housing stability of people experiencing poverty and homelessness, which it does by offering a continuum of services across 22 locations in the greater Toronto area that address three root causes of homelessness: inadequate and unaffordable housing, poor health, and low incomes. Visit

Project: Women’s Bakery Toronto, Ontario

Fred Victor’s Women’s Bakery is an employment and training program that provides practical baking/food services training and certifications, life and business skills, networking support, paid placements, and support with finding employment or starting a businesses for 24 vulnerable women annually. Using baking as a tool, the program breaks down barriers to employment, builds confidence, self-reliance, and ambition, and leads to stable employment income.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $25,000 to support direct program costs including ingredients, supplies, and equipment, as well as staffing costs and honorariums for Peer Leaders.



H2O4ALL was founded in 2008 with a mission to bring clean water and sanitation to developing areas worldwide. Working in partnership with local communities, the organization develops innovative tools and affordable, appropriate technology to help communities implement sustainable solutions for their water crises. Visit

Project: The Nakisunga Safe Water Project Uganda

In the Kyabalogo parish of Nakisunga, Mukono district, Central Uganda, only 2.4% of the population has access to clean, safe water. Working in partnership with Reach One Touch One Uganda (ROTOM), H2O4ALL will design and oversee the construction of a well with multiple dispensing points to provide safe water to 4,712 people in eight villages, as well as to the ROTOM nursing care centre in Nakisunga Village. The team will also create a project committee of community members to manage the water facility and ensure the ongoing sustainability of the project.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $10,000 to support the local sourcing of materials and subcontractors in Central Uganda, including water well drilling, excavation, and construction.



Lifewater was incorporated in 1997 to help with the water crises in Liberia after the First Liberian Civil War, where millions of people were left without access to a clean water source. Since then, Lifewater Canada has expanded to include Nigeria, Kenya, and Haiti, in hopes of providing everyone in those countries with clean, accessible water and hygiene. Visit

Project: Well Drilling and Rehabilitation Project Nigeria

This project will see Lifewater Canada partner with Lifewater Health Initiative of Nigeria (LHIN) and members of the local community to drill two new wells and rehabilitate four existing wells to help to combat the water scarcity experienced by many in Nigeria. Each well will impact 250-400 people, transforming communities by saving them money and time, preventing spread of disease, and protecting young students by keeping them in school instead of travelling for water.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $15,200 to complete the two new wells and four well rehabilitations.



Project HOPE seeks, through African partnerships, to develop effective long-term solutions that strengthen a community’s ability to care for widows and orphans. Working strategically alongside vibrant, grassroots initiatives, the organization develops long-term relationships with partners providing accountability, expertise, encouragement, and care for the whole person. Visit

Project: Tanzania Agricultural Project Tanzania

The Tanzanian Agricultural project is educating and training widows and orphans in sustainable, environmentally conscious farming methods in order to create long-term economic capacity and independence. The project addresses the need for infrastructure development and labour capacity in Tanzania which, despite the relatively stable economy, lags dramatically in agricultural productivity.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $25,000 to facilitate the training of a new cohort of widows and orphans, including seeds, fertilizer, tools, the construction of a new rudimentary school space/classroom and barn, and the purchase of dairy cows to begin next phase of the project (dairy management and the production of organic fertilizer).



Staffed and managed entirely by volunteers for over 45 years, S.H.A.R.E. Agriculture Foundation (“S.H.A.R.E.”) provides agricultural, education, skills training and health-wellness assistance targeted to the most disadvantaged, isolated communities in the poorest of Least Developed Countries (LDCs), primarily Central America, Cambodia, Bolivia, and Haiti. Visit

Project: Sprinkler Irrigation Chururi, Bolivia

In Chururi, a small indigenous community in the Cochabamba department of Bolivia, water stress and serious soil erosion are putting farmers’ production at risk and exacerbating poverty rates. To improve water efficiency and prevent further depletion of the soil, the current project will see the installation of a self-powered/gravity flow sprinkler irrigation system to replace the current open earth canal system. This is expected to result in a substantial increase in cultivated area, increase the production of main crops (potatoes, corn and broad beans), allow for the cultivation of new crop varieties and home gardens, and help provide economic sustainability to the Chururi community.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $19,800 to complete the excavation, construction, and installation of the irrigation system, as well as provide technical support and training to community members.



Seeds of Diversity Canada was founded in 1984 as a member-based organization of farmers and gardeners who preserve the biodiversity and sustainability of the basic building blocks of our food system: seeds, plants, and pollinators. They engage Canadians in hands-on education and conservation programs to build more robust future food systems though local seed production, training, on-farm plant breeding, pollinator protection, and skills development. Visit

Project: Youth in Food Systems’ Food Leader Interview Series Southern Ontario

The Youth in Food Systems (YFS) program inspires high school age youth to explore career options in the agriculture and food sectors. The Interview Series project, a key component of YFS, highlights some of the many viable and crucial pathways within Canadian agri-food and offers a space for young people to learn from those working to create better food systems in our country.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $10,000 to expand the Interview Series project with the help of a Program Coordinator who will bring in youth and food leaders from across Canada and implement a number of project optimizations, including structured training sessions for youth participants, the intentional selection of a diverse set of interviewees that may be more relatable to youth, and the development of a Food Leader Network to allow youth further opportunities to engage with and learn from interviewees.



Located on 660-acres of reclaimed urban green space in Winnipeg, Manitoba, FortWhyte Alive provides programming, natural settings, and facilities for environmental education, outdoor recreation, and social enterprise, with a goal to promote awareness and understanding of the natural world and actions that lead to sustainable living. Visit

Project: FortWhyte Farms – Growing Forward Winnipeg, Manitoba

FortWhyte Farms partners with high schools and youth-serving organizations to bring young people into nature to learn about food, farming, health, and wellness. Operating as a social enterprise, the farm bridges communities, creates learning and employment opportunities for youth, and grows healthy food for the community.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $10,000 to support youth leadership programming at FortWhyte Farms, which includes hands-on learning at the farm and in the kitchen, as well as lessons in financial literacy.


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