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Good food is “right, not a privilege,” says new food bank director

January 23, 2016   ·   0 Comments

Heather Hayes, Deputy Mayor of Mulmur, has been named Orangeville Food Bank’s first Executive Director.

The two-year position was created to ensure that the strategic plan, developed in 2014, was being carried out to the board’s satisfaction.

“It became clear that the four pillars of the Food Bank: community, governance, fiscal, and operations needed to have an overall person to move the goals forward,” says Hayes.

Hayes is well known across the community as a dedicated worker and volunteer.

Prior to her new position as Executive Director, she was a Service Coordinator at Dufferin and Child Family Services (DCAFS) and, before that, served as manager at the Pine River Institute.

Hayes holds a diploma as a Developmental Services Worker and has extensive experience in Provincial legislation, policy and procedures from her work in municipal politics, giving her the skills to be a strong funding advocate for the Food Bank.

Hayes, a long time organizer and volunteer for the Honeywood Beef Barbeque knows how important food is in bringing the community together.

She is an avid chef and has catered many local events.

“I started making bread with my Mom at the age of nine,” she says, “Food has been an important part of my life.”

At DCAFS, Hayes says she saw the financial stress families were under and when the opportunity arose at the Food Bank “everything fit together like a puzzle,” she said.

“All roads in my life led me here,” she says.

She calls it her “dream job” where she has the privilege of working with “awesome people in an amazing organization.”

But, with that, she says, comes a responsibility to the 20 years of history at the Food Bank.

“I owe them the very best I can offer,” she says.

There are over 50 volunteers who come in every week and do their part at the Food Bank; the oldest is over 90. They bring a lot of different skills, but all work together to do their part.

“The generosity of the community and the volunteers is working,” Hayes says.

The Orangeville Food Bank, which gives out over 136,000 lbs of food a year, operates on 100% community donations.

In the past, the Ontario Association of Food Banks supplied yearly grants of approximately $4,000 to support the launch of “Kids Zone,” a program that taught families healthier eating and supplied fresh foods.

But, now that programs are established, that funding is no longer available.

This year, the County of Dufferin is setting aside, for the first time, funding for food-based programs in the County.

Keith Palmer, Director of Community Services for Dufferin, is championing a made in Dufferin poverty reduction strategy with Darren White, Mayor of Melancthon, as the Chair of Community Services.

As a result of the strategic plan, improvements were identified and Hayes will be working to implement those changes and upgrades.

Client surveys revealed a need for more fresh food, “greens, salad, broccoli, bananas,” a big struggle for the Food Bank, says Hayes, as fresh food is the most expensive.

Those able to assist the Food Bank can help fill this need by considering donating cash instead of food. “Every little bit of money helps,’ says Hayes, who puts small donations together to purchase the much needed fresh produce. Cash donations can be dropped off, mailed or sent on line:


The current needs of the Orangeville Food Bank include:


Cash donations

Canned (not dried) pasta

Canned fruit in water

Pudding cups

Non-nut granola bars

Peanut butter

Canned meat (not tuna)

Kraft Dinner

Personal and feminine hygiene products



“Good food should be a right, not a privilege,” says the new Executive Director, who strives to make sure all clients of the Food Bank feel welcomed and are treated with dignity.

“We are here to help, not judge.”

She says a volunteer told her when she started the job, “This is a bank just like any other bank – sometimes you make deposits and sometimes you make withdrawals.”

By Marni Walsh



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