The Ontario Association of Food Banks (OAFB) has announced Chicken Farmers of Ontario as the recipient of the 2016 Paul Mistele Memorial Award for its creation of the CFO Cares Food Bank Donation Program. This program alone has provided more than 385,800 pounds of chicken to Ontarians in need since March 2015.

Named for the late farm leader who founded Ontario Pork’s Donate-A-Hog program in 1998, the Paul Mistele Memorial Award recognizes agricultural partners who have shown a significant and enduring commitment to ending hunger in Ontario. The award was presented to Chicken Farmers of Ontario on Oct. 27 at Farm & Food Care Canada’s annual Harvest Gala.

“There are no words to express our gratitude for the Chicken Farmers of Ontario and its creation of the CFO Cares Food Bank Donation Program,” says Carolyn Stewart, Executive Director of the OAFB. “This program has dramatically increased the amount of fresh food available to the people we serve, and has made a direct and positive impact in over 85 communities province-wide.”

Protein is essential to a healthy diet and is consistently listed as the most needed item by Ontario’s food banks. The creation of the CFO Cares Food Bank Donation Program provides food banks with fresh chicken on an ongoing basis, making a direct impact in the overall health of the families they serve and the communities in which they reside. Since spring 2015, nearly 300 chicken farmers have registered for the program.

“Chicken Farmers of Ontario is very pleased to be working in partnership with the Ontario Association of Food Banks to ensure that Ontarians in need have access to a regular supply of healthy, locally grown chicken,” said Henry Zantingh, Chair, Chicken Farmers of Ontario. “Farmers care about their communities and the success of this program indicates the importance they place on being able to donate the food that they grow on their farms to their local community food banks.”