University of Guelph President Franco Vaccarino with Anne and Tony Arrell at The Four Seasons Centre the other week.

University of Guelph President Franco Vaccarino with Anne and Tony Arrell at The Four Seasons Centre the other week. Pic courtesy of Rack & Pin Creative.


Just the other week the University of Guelph announced that it had received its single largest-ever gift, an incredible $20-million donation from The Arrell Family Foundation. This contribution was matched by funds from the university itself, and adds to a $77-million award from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund from the Food From Thought Project, a research program designed to catalyse a digital revolution in food and agriculture. Additional private funding brings the total investment in agri-food at Guelph to an undeniably impressive $150-million in the past 12 months.



With a 150 year history in agriculture, the University is the number 1 agri-food school in Canada, with a truly international reputation for excellence.

“This landmark gift will allow our University to address the defining challenge of our time : food security, safety, and sustainability. We are uniquely positioned to make a difference… The Arrell family has shown incredible generosity and foresight in making this gift, and we are are grateful to them for their faith in our agri-food prowess” – University of Guelph President, Franco Vaccarino.

Tony Arrell and his wife, Anne, who created the Arrell Family Foundation in 1999, are both University of Guelph alumni. Tony met Anne (nee Taylor) on a blind date while they were both students at the university. Tony received a Bachelor of Science in 1967 from the Ontario Agricultural College as well as an honorary doctorate in 2012. Anne graduated from the Macdonald Institute in 1968 with a Bachelor of Household Science. 



The Arrell’s gift to the university aims to transform the global food economy and further strengthen the role of Canada as an agri-food leader through the creation of The Arrell Food Institute.

Part of the gift will fund the position of director of the Arnell Food Institute, as well as three named Arrell Chairs, to be selected from top ranked international experts in the field. Prof. Evan Fraser, Canada Research Chair in Global Food Security, has recently been appointed to the position of director of the Institute. 

In addition, $7.5-million of this gift will support new Arrell Scholarships, which will award $50,000 per year to individual graduate students in the field of food studies.

The gift will also establish a prestigious annual conference to showcase innovative global research in food studies.

Finally, this gift will also fund the Arrell Global Food Innovation Awards, which aims to become the world’s most prestigious annual prize recognising globally-competitive excellence in research in the area of food studies.


Jamie DrummondEdinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And this really takes Guelph’s Agri-Food Program to the next level and beyond. Great news.