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Gay Lea Foundation passes $2 million in charitable giving

The Gay Lea Foundation is pleased to announce 12 new charitable grants that will see more than $125,000 channeled to humanitarian and community development projects in Canada, Kenya, Ethiopia, Peru, and Cambodia.

The projects were selected by the Foundation’s 11-member board of directors, comprised of Gay Lea Foods employees, shareholders, delegates, and directors, as part of the charitable organization’s Spring 2022 funding round.

“We know the last few years have been extremely challenging for Canadians and people around the world, and we’ve seen that reflected in the number of applications to our Foundation,” says Chair, Janet Ringelberg. “I’m incredibly proud that in a time of increasing financial pressures, when more and more people are turning to charities to meet their basic needs, our co-operative, its members, and its employees continue to come together to support families and communities. It’s what Gay Lea Foods and our Gay Lea Foundation is all about.”

Since its creation in 2014, the Gay Lea Foundation has now provided more than $2 Million in funding to support more than 100 unique poverty relief, community development and education projects in Canada and around the world. The grants are made possible through financial contributions from Gay Lea Foods, its employees, and its farmer members, with a recent online auction for the co-operative’s delegates, directors and Goat Producer Advisory Committee members raising an incredible $64,000 for the Foundation and the projects it supports.

“I am humbled by the continuing generosity of our Gay Lea Foods’ family,” says Michael Barrett, President & CEO of Gay Lea Foods. “These grants will be used to help many who are struggling”.

Read on to learn about the 12 Canadian charities selected by the Gay Lea Foundation this spring, the inspiring work they’re undertaking to provide hope for those who need it most, and how Gay Lea Foods is making a difference for people and communities around the world!



Located in downtown Toronto, Christie Refugee Welcome Centre (CRWC) has provided emergency shelter, initial settlement services and follow-up support for refugee families from all ethnic, racial, or religious backgrounds since 1989. Visit

Project: Children’s Backpack Initiative

Each year, about 50% of the residents at CRWC are school age children who have fled to Canada with their parent(s), arriving with no place to stay, few possessions and very little money. The goal of CRWC’s backpack initiative is to ensure that every child who arrives at the shelter receives a backpack filled with school supplies, giving them the tools necessary to engage in the classroom and create a foundation for successful lifelong learning.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $2,000 to purchase 50 backpacks with schools supplies to distribute to children as they arrive at the shelter and prepare for their first day of school in Canada.



Cuso International is a Canadian charity committed to ending poverty and inequality. Cuso works with local partners around the world to improve economic opportunities for all, enhance women’s and girls’ empowerment, and advance gender equality. By sharing skills, they are building sustainable futures. Each year, Cuso amplifies its impact by mobilizing hundreds of professionals who volunteer their time and share their experience. Learn more at:

Project: Women United for Food and Environmental Security, Peru

In Peru, a unique social protection network of ‘community pots’ has emerged to help feed the country’s poorest. Led by women, community pots are communal meals that see food from local urban and peri-urban farming plots shared and cooked for the neighbourhood. These meals impact more than just nourishment, they also support social engagement, solidarity, and connectivity, but a weak institutional framework means their impact is limited. Over the next two years, Cuso’s Women United for Food and Environmental Security Project will work in partnership with government and local organizations in Peru to strengthen the organization of the common pots, build capacity and opportunities for women farmers, and support knowledge sharing, advocacy and participation in decision making.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $10,000 to support training, certifications, farm inputs, and participant and volunteer supports to link urban and peri-urban women farmers with the women’s networks that coordinate the common pots.



Ethiopiaid Canada is a charitable international development organization focused on improving maternal health services, reducing barriers to education, and supporting women’s and girls’ empowerment in Ethiopia. Through their inclusive approach, they seek to reach and impact some of the most marginalized people living in poverty. Visit

Project: Emergency programing for the internally displaced population of the Afar region, Ethiopia

The violence between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the government of Ethiopia has left thousands dead, forced more than two million people from their homes and left at least 9.4 million people across the northern part of the country in need urgent help, according to the United Nations. Although normally focused on working with local partners to support women’s empowerment, literacy, income generating activities, and maternal health, the extreme humanitarian crisis has seen Ethiopiaid Canada and their local partners pivot to providing desperately needed emergency relief in the central Afar region, where towns were looted and access to government health services, protected drinking water, and local markets is in complete disarray for more than 300,000 people.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $15,180 to procure and distribute emergency supports for those who are internally displaced in the Afar region, including blankets, sleeping mats, food and cooking pots.



H2O4ALL was founded in 2008 with a mission to bring clean water and sanitation to developing areas around the world. 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: Life Primary and Secondary Schools Safe Water Project, Uganda

In Kyempene, located in the Ntungamo District of Western Uganda, a lack of clean, safe water remains a critical challenge. In partnership with Reach One Touch One Uganda (ROTOM), H2O4ALL’s Life Primary and Secondary Schools Safe Water Project will improve access to safe and adequate water for the schools and community members in Kyempene through the construction of a safe water solar powered system and the education of local community members to manage the water facilities at different distribution points sustainably, efficiently, and effectively.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $10,000 to support the overall project, which will see H2O4ALL design and provide engineering oversight including material procurement, installation supervision, and inspection.



The Hagersville Branch of the Haldimand County Public Library serves a population of approximately 4,000 residents who live in the small town of Hagersville, Ontario, and the surrounding villages, hamlets and rural areas of Springvale, Garnet, Nelles Corners, Six Nations Reserve and Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation Reserve. Visit

Project: New Hagersville Library and Active Living Centre

Haldimand County Council has approved the construction of a new, co-located Hagersville Library and Active Living Centre on the site of an existing municipal park and arena. Project construction, which is scheduled for 2023/2024, will see the creation of 1,400 additional square feet of library space, new programming and service spaces, and enhanced accessibility and parking. The new facility will complement existing facilities and create an integrated community hub that supports multi-generational programming in the areas of lifelong learning, arts, culture, and health and wellness.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $9,000 to purchase enhanced exhibit display units and a seed collection stand for the new library that will showcase the community’s cultural heritage, including its agricultural past, and house innovative collections that speak to residents’ unique interests and the local economy – including memorabilia linked to Hewitt’s Dairy.



Kenyan Kids Foundation Canada (KKFC) was founded in 2013 with a goal to reduce poverty and promote development in the Cherangany region of Western Kenya. Driven by their Mission statement, “Empowered families, thriving communities”, KKFC’s charitable objectives include reducing poverty by teaching sustainable agricultural and dairy farming practices, improving access to clean water, advancing education, and promoting basic health and hygiene. Visit

Project: Female Dairy Extension Officer, Kenya

In 2014, with support from one of the first-ever Gay Lea Foundation grants, KKFC established a successful dairy co-operative in the Cherangany Region that has since prospered and grown to benefit thousands of Kenyan families. Through their Cooperative Dairy Development project, the foundation employs one dairy extension officer to support more than 1,000 small-scale dairy farmers who are eager to learn best practices and methods for improving herd health and milk production. Because Kenyan women are critical to the operation of dairy farms in Cherangany, the Foundation seeks to hire a second, female extension officer specifically focused on gender equality and women in agriculture.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $10,000 to support a two-year contract for a female Kenyan-based extensions services technician who will advocate for gender diversity while communicating and developing best farming practices for dairy production in Kenya, with a goal to have the cooperative take full financial responsibility for the extension services program in year three.



Hope House Guelph operates and advocates on the belief that poverty, food insecurity, inequality, health and community are all interconnected. With the goal of a greater level of independence for every person living in poverty, they provide tangible, compassionate assistance and care through immediate relief and ongoing support. Visit

Project: The Better Food Co.

The Better Food Co. is a social enterprise of Hope House Guelph that aims to build a system where food is healthy, accessible, and shared. Each year, a portion of the harvest from the Hope House community farm becomes food waste due to its high perishability. As a result, Hope House sought to expand its farm to table to community approach by preparing single serve meals made by a local chef who volunteers their time. The primary ingredients in the meals come from the farm, with additional ingredients sourced from local suppliers where possible. These meals are sold to the public every month, and a portion of the prepared meals are distributed for free through the Hope House Food Market that distributes groceries to food insecure individuals and families. Any proceeds from the sale of the meals are reinvested into the farm.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $10,000 to offset the cost of goods sold for one year, including compostable or recyclable packaging.



One Girl Can Society is a Canadian and Kenyan registered charitable organization on a mission to break the cycle of poverty and achieve gender equality through education, mentorship and training. Their unique holistic model empowers girls from the time they leave primary school until the day they gain meaningful employment. Visit

Project: Ushirika Dormitory, Kiberia, Kenya

In January 2021, One Girl Can completed an ambitious project to rebuild the three-story Ushirika Primary and Secondary School in Kibera, Kenya – the largest urban slum in Africa. Now, they are building a dormitory for up to 80 high school girls in Kibera, providing a sanctuary where students can focus on pursuing their education without having to worry about their safety, household obligations, or common community challenges like abuse, overcrowding, hunger, neglect, and toxic stress from growing up in poverty. The dormitory will help girls discover their own path to empowerment and achieve their dreams of gaining an education, becoming economically independent, and moving out of the slum.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $11,582 to complete the dormitory by building a new water tower that will allow the school community to access water where they live and learn so they don’t have to walk through the informal settlement.



Delivering exceptional palliative care at Chapman House, an eight-bed hospice purpose-built for the care they provide, the team of highly skilled care professionals at the Residential Hospice of Grey Bruce provide compassionate, person-centered palliative care and grief and bereavement supports to all residents of Grey and Bruce Counties, and their families, at no cost. Visit

Project: Infrastructure Improvements

Chapman House first opened its doors in May 2017 and now requires several important repairs and improvements in order to continue providing a safe environment for residents and staff and optimize the operation of utilities.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $19,781 to repair the generator and HVAC system at Chapman House to ensure resident rooms are supplied with electricity (for lights and other critical needs, such as oxygen flow systems) in the event of a power disruption and provide adequate airflow to ensure a safe living and working environment for all residents and staff.



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 Program

Originally borne from a school food garden program, the Youth in Food Systems program inspires high school aged youth to explore potential career options in the agriculture and food sectors. Combining both remote and seasonal in-person opportunities in the Waterloo and Toronto regions, the program includes a career learning and mentorship interview series, a youth blog on food systems-related topics, opportunities for content creation, a youth food market, and garden education.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $8,000 to help Seeds of Diversity Canada grow the Youth in Foods Systems program by hiring a Volunteer and Program Coordinator, establish new streams of knowledge sharing, including a podcast and career profile series, and expand the geographical scope of the program.



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: Field Wells for Drinking Water and Farming, Cambodia

In Cambodia, where frequent droughts challenge farmers’ ability to grow crops for food and income and make accessing safe drinking water difficult in many areas, S.H.A.R.E. works with Tabitha Foundation Cambodia to provide field wells for irrigation to small farmers. Families must first join a Tabitha organized Savings Program to save the qualifying $20 contribution for a well, thus establishing their ownership. Each well, once drilled and equipped with a pump, will supply two families, allowing them to grow crops in the dry season and expand their harvest beyond rice. Tabitha’s staff are local and accessible to teach the farmers how to care and maintain their well, and also help with crop management.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $16,000 to drill 50 wells to provide safe drinking water and irrigation to 100 subsistence farmer families.



Shine Through The Rain helps those diagnosed with life-threatening illness by providing programs and services not typically available elsewhere, including those that address the resulting financial, social/emotional ruin, including inability to pay for groceries and shelter due to income loss and unexpected medical expenses. Visit

Project: 2022 Rural Rainy-Day Grocery & Shelter Program

Recognizing the unique burdens faced by rural patients, including travel to and from medical appointments and hospitals in distant urban centres, parking fees, hotel stays, restaurant meals, and other expenses not covered by private health insurance or provincial health insurance plans, the Rural Rainy-Day Grocery & Shelter Program provides grocery cards and/or payment of past-due rent/utilities for rural patients in need, helping to ensure they can recover in their own homes.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $7,500 to support the program, which provides a maximum of $1,500 per patient, per year, in the form of grocery gift cards and/or past-due rent and utility payments to low-income patients of all ages living anywhere in rural Canada.

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