Daily Bread’s Best in Class Awards are an annual celebration recognizing individuals and organizations who have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to ending hunger in Toronto.
Though the demand for our services continues to increase – with recent visits across our networks reaching a record high of 274,000 this past August – one constant has remained, the unwavering support of the volunteers, farms, corporations, foundations, donors and member agencies who stand with us in our mission to eliminate food insecurity and advocate for solutions to end poverty.
This year’s awards took place on October 2, 2023, at the National Yacht Club. The venue’s views of the Toronto skyline were the perfect backdrop for an evening recognizing the efforts of nominees that came from across the city. We were honoured to welcome Gurdeep Ahluwalia, of 98.1 CHFI’s The Pooja and Gurdeep Show, who served once again as our co-host alongside Neil Hetherington, CEO of the Daily Bread Food Bank.
On behalf of all of us at Daily Bread, we would like to extend our congratulations and recognition to the following Best in Class Award recipients and nominees across all 12 categories:
Dr. Valerie Tarasuk was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement award. Dr. Tarasuk is the co-founder of PROOF, a multidisciplinary research centre housed at the University of Toronto. Dr. Tarasuk has published some of the most influential publications regarding food insecurity in Canada, and her work has shown the direct relationship between income benefits and food insecurity, directly influencing Daily Bread’s advocacy along with the food security sector. As a former Daily Bread Board member, Dr. Tarasuk has been a key partner to the Research & Advocacy team, providing input and guidance on research projects.
UHC – Hub of Opportunities was the recipient of this year’s Harvest Hero award. This organization has worked with the greenhouse vegetable growing industry of Leamington, Ontario, and supplies multiple food bank locations with produce on a weekly basis. They have generously contributed over 900,000 pounds of produce a year to Daily Bread Food Bank, to ensure that clients have access to fresh greenhouse vegetables.
Food Industry Trailblazer
Riverside Natural Foods was the recipient of the Food Industry Trailblazer award. Since 2020, they have donated just under 100,000 pounds of granolas and cereals to Daily Bread. In the face of rising food bank numbers, Riverside approached Daily Bread to find new and innovative ways of partnership, resulting in the creation of a new product donation stream which sees bulk granola excess from production collected and sent to Daily Bread for repackaging.
Congratulations to Hello Fresh and Burnac Produce for their nominations.
The Corporate Leader award went to Takeda Canada. They are proud supporters of their local communities and have generously donated to Daily Bread over the last three years. Each year they organize a ‘Day of Service’ at Daily Bread, which allows their employees an opportunity to give back and learn more about the incredible impact their donations and volunteerism have in helping us meet the needs of so many.
Congratulations to Orlando Corporation and Grant Thornton Foundation for their nominations.
The recipient of the Workplace Champion award was Ontario Education Collaborative Marketplace (OECM). Since partnering with Daily Bread, OECM and its employees have provided their support through their holiday fundraising drive, their internal “Family Day” event for employees, and their annual golf tournament. OECM has continuously sought new ways to empower their employees to support our cause and has donated over $20,000 to Daily Bread over the last eight months.
Congratulations to PAC Building Group and Enterprise for their nominations.
The Chef Upstairs was the recipient of this year’s Community Leader award. On May 27, 2023, they teamed up with Rooks to Cooks for an afternoon of friendly competition in the Daily Bread kitchen. The event, “Get Fed Up!”, saw professional chefs and nearly 100 sous chefs (who were kids) work together to prepare more than 1,100 healthy and delicious meals that were distributed to clients at nearby agencies. Event participants and sponsors also raised nearly $18,000 to support Daily Bread’s programs.
Congratulations to Rockin’ Raccoon Ride and CP Holiday Train for their nominations.
Outstanding Food Program
Congratulations to Fort York Food Bank, the award recipient of the 2023 Outstanding Food Program. The team at Fort York Food Bank has risen to the challenge of increased food bank use, serving more than 5 times as many people than before the pandemic. Though their space is small, the team at Fort York Food Bank is committed to providing a dignified shopping experience for the community with a low-barrier lens.
Congratulations to Ve’ahavta and MABELLEpantry by MABELLEarts for their nominations.
Profound Community Impact
Spadina Fort York Community Care was the recipient of the 2023 Profound Community Impact award. They run multiple food programs in high needs areas of downtown Toronto. Their deep knowledge of creating respectful and safer spaces for people navigating complex poverty-related issues brings food access to people not often reached by traditional food banks. Their mission is to bring hope, dignity, humanity and care while providing individuals in need with meals, groceries, and hygiene supply kits.
Congratulations to Feed Scarborough and Parkdale Community Food Bank for their nominations.
Commitment to Equity
This year, the Toronto People with AIDS Foundation was the recipient of the Commitment to Equity award. With equity built into their lens, staff and volunteers at Toronto People with AIDS Foundation are committed to fostering trusting relationships and building deep-rooted connections with their community. For over a decade, clients have been able to shop at the Essentials Market with dignity, selecting nutritious items that best meet their needs in a warm and welcoming environment.
Congratulations to St. Stephen-in-the-Fields and The Stop Community Food Centre for their nominations.
Karen Harris was this year’s recipient of the Exceptional Volunteer award. Karen volunteers on a daily basis as a food sorter in the Daily Bread Production Hall and has made a real impression on everyone who works alongside her. She acts as Table Captain any time one is needed, guiding the lane’s team to great quality work. Additionally, Karen acts as a mentor to volunteers who need a little extra support and offers gentle coaching and guidance to help them realize success in their volunteer roles.
Congratulations to Róisín Stewart and The Hammer Heads for their nominations.
Champions of Change
The ODSP Action Coalition was the recipient of a new award, Champions of Change. Co-Chairs, Andrea, Trevor, and Ron have provided invaluable expertise in developing position statements, submissions to the House of Commons and the Senate regarding the Canada Disability Benefit and improving ODSP policies. By bringing their lived experiences into their advocacy and working collaboratively with organizations like Daily Bread, they are actively fighting to eliminate poverty and food insecurity in Toronto.
Congratulations to Dr. Michael Widener and Ontario for All for their nominations.
The Outstanding Philanthropist award went to The Sprott Foundation. For over 20 years, The Sprott Foundation has been unwavering in its support of Daily Bread Food Bank. This past year, they made a generous $1 million dollar donation to Daily Bread, allowing us to expand our reach to better serve the community. The Sprott Foundation’s long-standing partnership has been an integral part of our ability to make a meaningful impact on the lives of those facing food insecurity, while also inspiring others to give.
Thank you to all the deserving nominees and award recipients for celebrating with us. We’re so grateful for your remarkable commitment to alleviating hunger and poverty in Toronto through volunteerism, corporate social responsibility, workplace fundraising, community engagement and crucial food bank and frontline services.
You can see the full album of photos from the Best in Class Awards by clicking here.