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Wilfrid Laurier University Communications, Public Affairs & Marketing
October 26, 2016
Canadian Excellence


Katharine Schmidt, Alumna

In the stubborn battle against hunger, Katharine Schmidt (MBA ’97) is uniquely qualified to make a difference.

She has devoted her entire 20-year career to food — first in government, then in a senior industry role, and from 2004 to 2007, as executive director of the Food Bank of Waterloo Region.

Now the executive director of the charitable organization Food Banks Canada, she has her sights set firmly on a new vision for battling poverty in Canada and reducing the growing reliance on food banks, which now serve more than 720,000 Canadians a month, 40 percent of them children.

“We live in a country of incredible wealth and beauty, yet people are struggling,” she says. “I’m convinced there’s a new way we can look at hunger and poverty in this country and look at ways of making progress that we’ve never seen before.”

Schmidt is motivated when she’s reminded of the critical contribution that food banks make. The so-called Walls of Hunger at many food banks, which feature comments by clients on paper plates, are a testament to that.

“Reading those, you realize the food bank community is making a huge impact every day on people’s lives,” she says. “Each person that leaves can end up feeling better. A box of cereal will allow a child to have a great day. And that’s what keeps you going."