AON’s Smith Family Honours Matriarch Myrtle Smith with Lead Gift for Community Kitchen at Public Health

Written by admin, November 26, 2015

November 26, 2015 – Public Encouraged to Help Raise Remaining $73,000 to Build Unique Community Kitchen Designed to Reduce Food Insecurity

The Peterborough Public Health will soon be home to the area’s only public health kitchen thanks to a generous lead gift announced today by AON’s Smith family.

The Smith family made the donation in memory of their matriarch Myrtle Smith who recently passed away at 100 years old.  Mrs. Smith was known for her love of cooking and thScreen Shot 11-26-15 at 09.22 AMe Peterborough community.  This new commercial-quality kitchen will be named “Myrtle’s Kitchen”, and will be built on the second floor of Public Health’s new location at 185 King St.  It will support a wide range of community programs to create food security for vulnerable residents in partnership with Nourish Project and other local partners, as well as nutrition andsafe food handling programs.

This gift was made on behalf of Myrtle’s sons Hugh Smith, Braydon Smith and the late Ross Smith, as well as AON Inc.

“Myrtle would have been so proud to have her name on a kitchen where others can practice their cooking skills,” said Ruth Smith, Myrtle’s daughter-in-law. “Throughout her life Myrtle loved to cook for her family and friends. She is remembered by so many for her generosity and hospitality, both at her home and the family cottage on Chemong Lake. We are still trying to duplicate her Christmas cake, Christmas pudding and brownies!”

With this gift, together with other major donations that include gifts from Flying Colours, Community Food Centres Canada and a generous grant from the Community Foundation of Greater Peterborough, 64% of the campaign goal is raised allowing construction on the kitchen to begin in January 2016.  Today’s announcement launches the public phase of the $204,000 campaign to raise funds for Myrtle’s Kitchen.  Donors with an interest in poverty reduction and public health are encouraged to help raise the remaining $73,000 needed to complete this one-of-a-kind project.

“We are enormously grateful for the Smith family’s generous gift and for all our donors to date as the community kitchen is essential to Peterborough’s poverty reduction strategy, yet above and beyond what the government currently funds us for,” said Dr. Rosana Salvaterra, Medical Officer of Health.  “The Public Health is one of the few public organizations that operates its own food literacy and access programming with a trained chef on staff.  Fundraising from this campaign will stretch well beyond Public Health too – it will benefit partners suchas the Nourish Project who needed accessible space for their own programs.”

The Greater Peterborough Vital Signs reports highlight the need for coordinated action around food security and the Community Foundation of Greater Peterborough, which produces these reports, is investing $50,000 in Myrtle’s Kitchen. “This investment builds on the Community Foundation’s partnerships with local organizations such as Nourish and Food for Kids to promote a vital community where everyone has access to healthy food” said Community Foundation of Greater Peterborough Board Chair, Betty Morris.

The vision behind Myrtle’s Kitchen is to improve the quality of life of our community by establishing a regional, shared meeting place where all people can come together to access healthy food and learn valuable life skills, while advocating for enough food for everyone.  People can “buy a seat” with a donation of $1,000 or “buy a table” with a donation of $5,000.  All gifts are 100% tax deductible as Public Health is a registered charity.

“Good food can have a transformative impact on our community,” said Dr. Salvaterra.  “We know that 11.5% of our local households experience food insecurity which means that every day there are thousands of residents who cannot access healthy foods.”  She explained that by expanding the quality of food skills programs, and eliminating kitchen rental costs for community agencies who deliver these programs, Myrtle’s Kitchen will significantly benefit our most vulnerable populations.

“No gift is too small when it comes to creating a food secure community; everyone deserves to be food secure,” said Dr. Salvaterra.

To make a donation towards the building of Myrtle’s Kitchen at 185 King St., please call 705-743-1000, ext. 264 or donate online at and click on “Make a Donation”.


For further information, please contact:

Alida Tanna
Executive Assistant, Medical Officer of Health
705-743-1000, ext. 264