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The VanDyck Foundation

The VanDyck Foundation is a private operating foundation governed by a restricted charitable purpose trust (governing document), rather than a Board of Directors. Leah Dyck is the Trustee, and she’s also the Founder of the Fresh Food Weekly nutrition-based intervention program, which was run through The VanDyck Foundation. 

Charitable Status No. 77364 5148 RR0001

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Leah Dyck

Founder

In 2008, Leah went to the Women & Children's Shelter of Barrie after being domestically assaulted. This gave Leah Special Priority Status as a victim of domestic violence in the Housing Services Act, 2011, legislated through the principal equality rights guarantee in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, section 15. Leah was referred to the Barrie Municipal Non-Profit Housing Corporation (BMNPHC) in 2008 and has been living under their tyranny ever since.

 

Leah has completed three college programs between 2009 and 2014; in Advertising, Social Media (Honour’s roll) and Fundraising (Honour’s roll). As a result, she's since gained a full comprehension of the social assistance programming currently available in The County of Simcoe, having made good use of them all. 

 

Lived Experience has played a key role in the development of the Fresh Food Weekly nutrition-based intervention program. The program itself was designed, founded by, and run by one of its own recipients; Leah Dyck. 

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Finding the path to food security in a county that discriminates

My name is Leah Dyck and I’ve been running a registered food charity in Barrie, Ontario, Canada since the summer of 2021. I secured and coordinated the delivery of half a million dollars worth of fresh food to thousands of people in Barrie and Innisfil between 2021 and 2024. By September 2021, the Fresh Food Weekly program was delivering to 267 low-income families each week. I wrote my own governing documents because I couldn't afford a lawyer and I received charitable status is July 2022. Between July 2022 and January 2024, I personally raised +$176K and spent $93K on wholesale fresh, locally-sourced and high-quality foods, while continuing to receive fresh food donations, which accumulated to a collective retail value of +$362K. To accomplish this, +1,000 volunteers were coordinated to deliver this food to the front doorsteps of the same low-income families on a biweekly basis, with the exception of holidays, in which we gave out hundreds of additional one-time holiday meal boxes to anyone who was low-income (not just disabled and elderly people). This created food security within a very targeted population group; about 82 percent of recipients were on disability benefit while the rest were senior and received OAS, GIS or less than $2K/month for their CPP or CPP Disability benefit. By January 2024, we had the same 90 low-income families on our program that we delivered to every other week, which amounted to 206 program recipients. 

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Mission Statement: “Providing a free, fresh and locally-sourced food delivery service to low-income families.” 

 

Charitable Purpose: To reduce the long-term demand for health care services. 

Vision Statement: To breakdown every single barrier preventing low-income households from eating three meals a day.

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Gave

$362K

worth of fresh food

Delivered

2,867

fresh food meal boxes

Raised

+$176K

in donations

What we've accomplished goes to show what can be achieved when someone with Lived Experience makes decisions."

 

- Leah Dyck

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Our business principals

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  • Ensure sound stewardship of donor funds by having protocols put in place to ensure beneficiaries are actually of vulnerable population groups. This is done through proof-of-income documentation. 

  • Only purchase food at a discount - our buying power allows us to do this. Never pay retail prices. 

  • Buy locally as much as possible. 

  • Serve the most vulnerable population groups first. 

  • Build a brand with a strong public-facing (a brand that engages in the community, i.e., the kid’s cooking workshops are an excellent example of achieving this).

  • Never stop evolving and adapting the program to have the highest impact possible on the lives of the people it serves. 

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It wasn't just about giving free food; it was about their wellbeing

We know it costs less to feed people than it does to treat them for chronic diseases caused from not feeding them. Fresh Food Weekly existed to generate household food security through food access in population groups with inadequate social assistance support.

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Leah's family name

The VanDyck's

The VanDyck Foundation was named after Leah Dyck’s family’s previous family name, which was changed to ‘Dyck’ at some point in the last 500 years. The VanDyck’s had originally emigrated from The Netherlands, to Germany, to Russia and then to Canada. Leah’s grandfather  was born on into a Russian Mennonite family estate of Pappelheim in the area of Andreyeka, just south of Slavgood, north of Rosenhof. Leah’s father, Clyde, says his grandfather was a medic for the Russian Red Cross during World War I because Mennonites didn’t believe in killing. 

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Leah’s family was part of the historic 1923 migration of 21,000 Mennonites from Russia to Canada, who were leaving the Soviet Union. On June 23, 1924 they boarded a train at Lichtenau near Muntau and eventually arrived by boat in Quebec City on July 17th. Upon processing at immigration stations, they were sent off in trains to find new land to farm. 

Leah’s great grandfather, George, moved his family to Kitchener, where they were taken in by the David Hoffman family, in Wallenstein, Ontario, who provided them with shelter and work until they got themselves established. Eventually, George rented a farm at the end of Glasgow street on the outskirts of Kitchener for a brief period and then bought his own farm in East Preston. He named it Hopewell Farm because he hoped it would go well. 

This is where Leah’s father and mother grew up, and met each other; in Preston, Ont., and the house on the farm her great grandfather bought still stands today at 658 Pine Street in Cambridge, Ont. 

Old Cambridge Farmhouse
Old Cambridge Farmhouse
Ruth Dyck Signature
Old Cambridge Farmhouse Painting

Here’s an aerial view of Hopewell Farm back when Leah’s father was still a child. 

Ruth Dyck (Leah's dad's mom); 658 Pine Street., Preston, Ont. 

Leah's family history research project

Leah's family history side project; on her mom's side. 

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“No one truly understands what it’s like to live in poverty without living in it themselves for at least a decade. It’s wrong. It’s inhumane. And someone needs to do something about it.” 

- Leah Dyck

Leah Dyck: Finding the path to food security

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