To spread a little joy and show their appreciation during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, the farmer-owned Gay Lea Foods Cooperative is giving away baking kits to families and frontline grocery store workers.
Fourteen hundred baking kits, one for each of Gay Lea’s approximately 1400 farmer members in Ontario and Manitoba, are being distributed using a vintage delivery truck to families in 14 neighbourhoods in the Greater Toronto area (GTA).
With people spending time at home and the shortage of baking ingredients, Gay Lea Foods wanted to “deliver some joy when people are at home cooking together,” said Gay Lea Foods member and dairy farmer, Selena Prinzen. Giving back to the community is important at Gay Lea Foods, she said.
The baking kits contain butter, flour, sugar along with a recipe for shortbread cookies.
“Baking can reduce anxiety, bring people together, and create happiness,” wrote Child and Family Therapist, Cindy Smolkin, in a press release. “Now more than ever, as we crave connection and comfort, I recommend baking for its tactile benefits and also as a tool to help overcome stress and promote wellness.”
Prinzen said she likes to bake with her two young daughters at their Bloomfield, Ontario farm. In addition to being an enjoyable shared activity, baking can be a learning opportunity to practice reading and measuring skills, she said.
In the next phase, packages containing baking-themed puzzles and Gay Lea butter will be distributed to families across the GTA.
The campaign has been well received, said Prinzen. “People are loving it.” Recipients are encouraged to share pictures of their baked goods on Instagram using the hashtag #bakehappytogether.
This isn’t the first time the truck has been used to spread joy on behalf of Gay Lea Foods and its members. Last December the vintage truck surprised families at skating rinks, toboggan hills and Christmas tree farms with milk and cookies, wrote Sharon Lassman, founder of Purpose Ink, a strategic communications company which helped roll out the program, in an email. “We also made deliveries to firefighters, police officers, crossing guards and many others who make our communities better year-round.”
According to a compony press release, Gay Lea Foods Co-operative Ltd. was founded more than 60 years ago and is 100% Canadian-owned and operated. It was the first co-operative of its kind to include licensed dairy cow and dairy goat members, and process both kinds of milk into a range of dairy products.
From its farms, production facilities, distribution networks and employees, Gay Lea Foods leads with the co-operative inspired values and principles upon which the it was founded.