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 food security program, which is run through The VanDyck Foundation.
The mission statement for The VanDyck Foundation is: “Providing a free, fresh and locally-sourced food delivery service to low-income families”.
Charitable Status No. 77364 5148 RR0001
Leah Dyck & Fresh Food Weekly
Leah has been living in public housing since 2008, and has only ever had low-wage jobs despite the fact that she 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 to people struggling to live, having made good use of them all for one-and-a-half decades.
Lived Experience has played a key role in the development of Fresh Food Weekly. The program itself was designed, founded by, and continues to be run by one of its own recipients; Leah Dyck.
About six months into the Pandemic, the company Leah had been working for at the time went bankrupt. This is when the idea to start a food charity came about. Leah already knew her neighbour's in her own public housing building were already starving, so she registered the www.FreshFoodWeekly.com domain, created a website on wix.com and reached out to a few local farmers asking if they had any extra produce they could donate to low-income families living in public housing here in Barrie, Ont.
Because these few farmers said yes right off the bat, Leah has been able to grow the program into what it is today. In the first 12 months of fundraising, Leah personally raised $100K and had $200K worth of fresh food delivered to +5,000 vulnerable people in the community in Fresh Food Weekly's first fiscal year.
Leah is uniquely qualified to take a stand on the social mobility issues plaguing Canada’s communities. She founded Fresh Food Weekly to combat food insecurity not just for herself but for everyone else just like her.
Research tells us that engaging with people with Lived Experience has helped improve the outcomes of social assistance programs and initiatives. Using the “nothing about us without us” principle ensures that programming interventions are adequate, relevant, and will impact the community it serves in a very meaningful way.
Fresh Food Weekly was designed to break down every single barrier preventing low-income households from being food secure by:
1) Providing food that’s free and fresh; and
2) Bringing it to people at home.
Program recipients are offered options such as 4L of 1%, OR 2% milk OR 2L of lactose-free milk and beginning in November 2023, we also started offering chocolate milk; 14 types of bread that’s baked on the same day it's delivered in a bread box so it maintain's it's shape; salted or unsalted butter; four types of cheese, Mild Gouda, Cheddar, Havarti, and Swiss; and choices for things like veggie sides (i.e. Brussel sprouts OR asparagus) and desserts (pumpkin pie ice cream OR pumpkin pie).
Volunteer Tom Carney loading up his vehicle with meal box deliveries at Countryside United Church in Thornton, Ont.
When recipients are provided with food options that reflect their dietary needs, it gives them a sense of dignity. It demonstrates that an importance has been placed on their physical and mental well-being and that that is something to be invested in. Furthermore, the privacy of having food delivered at home instead of waiting for it in long lineups outside, also serves them dignity, making them feel more like human beings and less like animals.
“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