As part of the Canada 150 anniversary, Geoff Gyles is planning to travel across the country, raise awareness of the problem of hunger in Canada, and make a real difference by donating $150,000 towards fighting child hunger in Canada. Geoff will drive (or fly when necessary) to the capitals of every province and territory in Canada in summer 2017. On the Journey to End Hunger, he’ll drop off cheques at food banks, soup kitchens, and school breakfast programs.
The Journey to End Hunger is also a personal journey for Geoff, the fulfilment of a lifelong desire to drive across the country and see it all at once. As a 10-year-old child in 1967, he watched Canada’s Centennial celebrations on television, and dreamed about travelling to all the places he saw. “It seems like the perfect time and way to celebrate Canada 150,” Geoff says.
In a country with as many resources as Canada, we have the means to eradicate child hunger. I want to do something tangible – something real – to address this problem, and encourage others to do the same. That’s why I’m going on this journey.
Happy kids dream of becoming teachers, superheroes, the best videogame player in the world, or tall enough to reach the monkey bars on their own. Hungry kids daydream about food.
If you’re a hungry kid, you have no energy to play tag at recess. You can’t concentrate on what the teacher says because of your tummy ache. And it sucks to pretend you forgot to bring a lunch to school, when there wasn’t anything to bring.
It’s estimated that 1.1 million children go hungry in Canada. Tragically, that’s when good nutrition matters most, when children’s minds and bodies are developing.
Low family income is the main reason kids go hungry. Over 30% of Canadian food bank users are children and youths. Their families may be on social assistance, or their parents work but earn low wages that don’t cover expenses.
As a grandfather, Geoff Gyles knows every child has potential. And simply put, hunger limits potential. “If kids are going hungry, they may not do well in school. They could grow up to cure cancer or do something else great, but if they’re hungry, they might not ever be able to realize that promise of the future.”
Geoff has seen hungry people lined up outside soup kitchens in Winnipeg, waiting to go inside for a meal. When he’s at the grocery store, he tries to drop food-bank donations into the supermarket bin. He has contributed money to hunger-fighting charities.
Now Geoff wants to think bigger: he’s going to hit the road and visit charities that feed growing kids, and hopefully inspire others along the way.
Ready to launch! Geoff will drive across Canada (and sometimes fly) to visit food banks, soup kitchens, and school breakfast programs. To thank them for their dedication, he will donate $10,000 in each city, plus another $10,000 to a national organization, for a total of $150,000. It’s Geoff’s way to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary.
|St. John’s, NL||June 2||Kids Eat Smart Foundation|
|Winnipeg, MB||June 5||Winnipeg Harvest|
|Regina, SK||June 6||Regina Food Bank|
|Edmonton, AB||June 7||Food for Thought|
|Victoria, BC||June 9||KidsKlub Brown Bag Lunch Program|
|Whitehorse, YT||June 13||Whitehorse Food Bank|
|Yellowknife, NT||June 16||Food First Foundation|
|Toronto, ON||June 29||Daily Bread Food Bank|
|Ottawa, ON||July 2||The Ottawa Mission|
|Quebec City, QC||July 3||The Salvation Army Food Bank|
|Fredericton, NB||July 4||Greener Village|
|Charlottetown, PEI||July 5||The Upper Room Hospitality Ministry|
|Halifax, NS||July 6||Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Halifax|
|Iqaluit, NU||July 10||Niqinik Nuatsivik Nunavut Food Bank|
I believe the essence of Canada is not greed, nor aggression, but rather the spirit of looking after each other, and generosity. That’s what I hope to inspire with this journey.
Geoff Gyles, 60, grew up in Winnipeg and earned his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Manitoba, and has spent his entire career in agriculture. He became a founding owner of Wolf Trax, a partner at March Agricultural, and the CEO of Enterra. Whether in sales, as a CEO or as a business owner, his focus has been on helping farmers produce more food.
“Those of us in the agriculture industry, and especially farmers, love the role we play in helping to feed the world. That’s why it’s so frustrating that we have a child hunger problem here in Canada. It’s not really a matter of not producing enough―upwards of 30% of food is wasted before it reaches the consumer. We throw out a massive amount of food before it even reaches the kitchen table.”
Geoff acknowledges there are many problems associated with hunger, such as low minimum wage, problems in food distribution, food waste, and socio-economic factors―the list is almost endless. But he does not want to get caught up in these debates. “This is really a simple problem: people don’t have enough food to eat. Let’s focus on the positive things we can do, each of us, to fix this problem,” he says. “It will make a big difference in a lot of people’s lives.”
Geoff lives in Canmore, Alberta, with his wife, Jennifer. With four grandchildren under the age of four, they often think about children who might not be as fortunate as their own grandchildren. “They’re quite blessed. I don’t think they’ll be going hungry in their lives. But that’s not true for all Canadian children.”
Geoff is determined to help fight child hunger in Canada, and hopes others will join him on this journey.
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Join Geoff in his Journey to End Hunger, and celebrate the Canada 150 anniversary by helping to fight child hunger in your own community: