Dairy Farmers of Ontario is committed to supporting Ontario communities through partnerships that help families and individuals access high-quality, nutritious milk and dairy products. A commitment that is needed now more than ever as an increasing number of Canadian families are relying on food banks to help them with their nutritional needs. According to a Second Harvest Survey, 60 per cent more Canadians are expected to visit food banks in 2023. With this increase, food banks are struggling to secure enough healthy, nourishing food items, especially perishable food items.

As proud members of communities across the province, Ontario dairy farmers believe in supporting families who need it the most – as we say, it’s in our nature to nourish. Over the years, Dairy Farmers of Ontario and the 3,273 dairy farmers we represent have partnered with food banks across the province to support their individual needs.

To help meet the needs of their communities at a grassroots level, dairy farmers across Ontario are grouped by local area into Dairy Producer Committees (DPCs). These DPCs have established strong relationships with their local food banks to provide support financially, through equipment donation or through milk and dairy donations. Through these relationships, our local DPCs have gained insights on the challenges and priorities of their local food banks. Our DPCs in Durham and Peterborough are just two examples of how local Ontario farmers are using these insights to help local food banks where it is needed most.

Durham DPC

In Durham Region, our local DPC had been donating to food banks in the area for years. Through these activities, they established a relationship with one of the food bank chefs, who helped educate the committee about food bank logistics, including the difficulty of keeping dairy products on-hand due to their lack of refrigeration capacity. Food banks often struggle to meet the day-to-day needs of their clients and have minimal funding available for larger investments such as equipment. 

To support the long-term operations of the food bank, the committee partnered with a group of local egg farmers and donated an industrial refrigerator. The impact was incredible, allowing the food bank to store and distribute more nutritious, perishable items, including dairy products, to those in need in the community.

“One of the chefs [there] told us he feels he can provide healthier meals now,” said John Werry, a dairy farmer and member of the Durham DPC. “He produces 400 meals a day, and his ability to include butter and milk means he can provide a healthier diet.”

This impact inspired the Durham DPC to continue this effort and they reached out to other local food banks to assess where there was need for more capacity. Since 2019, they have been able to donate one refrigerator to a local food bank every year.

"It’s part of our mandate as a group of local dairy farmers to engage with our communities,” continued Werry. “If we can make a local connection and provide support, that has a huge impact.”

Patty Latour, Food Bank Coordinator, and Tracy Dafoe, Peterborough Dairy Producer Committee pictured at Bridgenorth Food Bank

Peterborough DPC

In Peterborough, the local DPC engaged with food bank partners and responded to the evolving needs of their community members.

The committee has strong relationships with many food banks within the city of Peterborough. Through conversations with partners and local community members, they learned about the difficulty food banks in small, rural areas have in securing enough donations to meet the growing needs of their communities – especially for vital and specialty items such as butter and cheese. As local dairy farmers, committee members have a strong connection to these communities and felt a desire to do their part to support other residents in need, pivoting their focus to donate butter to these smaller, rural food banks and to donate cheese for their Christmas and holiday food hampers.


“A lot of these rural food banks depend on fundraising and donations, and (for them) cheese is a specialty item, and their dollars have to go to the basics,” said Tracy Dafoe, a dairy farmer and member of the Peterborough DPC. “We all hear that the food banks are in need, but to actually hear about what the food banks are dealing with on a day-to-day basis and that we can help, is amazing.”

As dairy farmers, it’s our nature to nourish. And as members of our local communities, we strive to give back in ways that will make our communities stronger. The examples above are just two of dozens from across Ontario, where dairy farmers support more than 120 local food banks and compliments Dairy Farmers of Ontario’s longstanding fluid milk donations, which saw 1.36 million litres of fluid milk donated by local dairy farmers to Ontario food banks in 2022.