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$117,100 OTF Grant Helped CMHA Continue to Deliver Community Food Programs and Services

Barrie, ON – On Tuesday, local MPPs Doug Downey and Andrea Khanjin met with the team at the Canadian Mental Health Association Simcoe County Branch (CMHA) to hear more about the impact that a $117,100 Resilient Communities Fund grant awarded in 2021 by the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) has had. The grant helped increase CMHA’s organizational capacity to deliver community food programming, conduct a strategic planning process and create a volunteer management plan for its Urban Pantry program.

“The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of food security within our community,” said Doug Downey, MPP for Barrie–Springwater–Oro-Medonte. “Having access to healthy, nutritious food is imperative for families in our region. Programs like this have helped to address the concerns many families have around food security, and ensure access to fresh produce for years to come. Thank you to CMHA staff and volunteers for your incredible work.”

The project was completed in July and has equipped CMHA with a plan for sustainability and a volunteer management plan, which will ultimately give the community access to food and food skills through the Barrie Good Food Box, Community Gardens, and Community Cooking programs.

“CMHA's Urban Pantry Program is a great example of a local initiative that in partnership with the province of Ontario can focus on connecting people of all ages in our community to critical resources to provide food security, while also establishing connections that are supportive to improving individuals' mental health, such as being connected to a positive community while spending time outdoors" said Andrea Khanjin, MPP for Barrie-Innisfil. “The Urban Pantry Program has engaged the whole community to come together to help our community grow more connected through helping one and another to create a sustainable way to ensure healthy food is on every family's table. I am glad the province could help make this program successful again through the OTF Resilient Communities Fund grant which has been able to provide our mental health professionals with the support they need to run their valuable community programming."

In addition to the organizational supports, the grant resulted in over $50,000 in grants and donations to the Barrie Good Food Box program, which provides fresh fruits and vegetables at low or no cost for over 400 households per month. And thanks to the $117,100 OTF grant, CMHA staff are equipped with volunteer management software, staff training, and a volunteer management plan to better support the volunteers who make the Urban Pantry program possible.

"When COVID-19 hit, we had to reimagine our programs and services and find new ways of delivering community food programming,” said Jenna Zardo, Coordinator of the Urban Pantry program at CMHA. “This grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation has allowed our organization to recover from the effects of the pandemic and increase our capacity. Our community thrives when people have access to fresh food and opportunities to learn and connect.”

CMHA is committed to the community and ensuring that opportunities to grow, cook or access fresh food remain accessible for many years to come. If you wish to enquire about CMHA, Urban Pantry, and/or the Barrie Good Food Box, please visit the website at:

The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) mission is to build healthy and vibrant communities across Ontario. As an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations, last year, OTF invested nearly $209M into 2,042 community projects and partnerships, which included funding for the Government of Ontario’s Community Building Fund.
Since 2020, OTF has supported Ontario’s economic recovery by helping non-profit organizations rebuild and recover from the impacts of COVID-19. Visit to learn more.

Organization Contact for Media Inquiries:
Lynne Raimondi, Fundraising, Communications and Volunteers
Canadian Mental Health Association
(705) 726-5033 ext 536

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