Dean’s Valu-Mart becomes valuable member of Good Food Box program on Western Manitoulin

group of people in a grocery store
Members of the local food distribution team for the Good Food Box program on Western Manitoulin and the owners and several employees of Dean’s Valumart in Gore Bay, which is a supplier of the Good Food boxes and purchased groceries for the Food Cupboard at Lyons Memorial United Church in Gore Bay, gathered for a photo last week. In photo is Linda Willson, Barb Barfoot, Rev. Mercedes Hughes, Heather Patterson, Ivan Brandow, Shirley and Dean Moss, Kathy Mutch, David Hache, Robin Hache, Corr Schouten, Jean Pearson, Joel Lock, Caine Negannegijig, and Lorraine Mattinson.

GORE BAY—The local distribution centre team for the Good Food Box program on Western Manitoulin has been aided greatly with a Gore Bay-based grocery store having become a supplier of its Good Food boxes and purchased groceries for the Food Cupboard at the Lyons Memorial United Church.

“The outreach team at Lyons Memorial United Church, home of the Food Cupboard and distribution centre for the Good Food Box program in Gore Bay, is thrilled to have Dean and Shirley Moss and their staff at Dean’s Valu-Mart on board as the monthly supplier of our Good Food Boxes and all our purchased groceries for the Food Cupboard,” said Kathy Mutch. “Dean and Shirley Moss and Dean’s Valu-Mart staff have been very helpful with our food orders, fair pricing, packing and sometimes even helping to unpack orders.” For further information or an emergency appointment please call Ms. Mutch at 705-282-2323.

Ms. Mutch explained, “the Good Food Box program is a non-profit, community initiative helping individuals and families in need of assistance to put fresh produce on the table. The program offers a variety of nutritious, delicious fresh fruits and vegetables at wholesale prices. The food boxes are packed and delivered to communities across Manitoulin on the third Tuesday of every month.”

“The Island Good Food Box program is now under the administration of Local Food Manitoulin which became incorporated as an Ontario not-for-profit corporation in 2022. With the change in administration, our Gore Bay group made a request for a supply change, and it was approved,” continued Ms. Mutch.

“After several years of transporting boxes from Little Current to Gore Bay to distribute from Lyons Memorial United Church, we approached Dean’s Valu-Mart about the logistics of supplying our Western Manitoulin boxes. Dean and Shirley Moss eagerly accepted the challenge in September, 2022.”

“This is new for us since the fall,” said Ms. Moss. “We had been approached by the local outreach team and we were very happy to participate.”

“They are all volunteers and they had approached us,” said Mr. Moss.

Ms. Moss noted, “this started in the fall. They approached us in looking at ways to make it easier for people on the west end of the island to access the food boxes that are needed. We were very happy to jump on board, helping the community with food or on other projects of need is near and dear to our heart.”

Individuals or families wanting to take advantage of the program must purchase and place their order in the month prior to delivery. A large box is $25, and a small box is $13. Church groups, service groups and individuals often order boxes to give to others needing a hand during tough times. More information about the Good Food Box program is available at localfoodmanitoulin.com or please contact Barbara Barfoot at (705) 282-2694.

A second food initiative comes in the form of the Lyons Memorial United Church FoodCupboard at 17 Meredith Street in Gore Bay. Reverend Mercedes Hughes and the mission and outreach committee purchased shelves and stocked them with dry and canned goods in the fall of 2019. “Some people have difficulty accessing the Food Bank in Mindemoya, and we felt there was a need in Western Manitoulin,” said Ms. Mutch.

The Food Cupboard is open every Thursday from 12:00 noon until 3:00 pm or by appointment and people are invited to fill a bag or two, depending on how many they are feeding. In the three years they have been operating the Food Cupboard, individuals from the community, the school (Charles C. McLean Public School), the Gore Bay Western Manitoulin Rotary Club, the Legion (Branch 514) and other churches have helped to keep the shelves stocked. In 2022 we helped feed 690 people and our purchased groceries cost $10,590.”

Ms. Mutch noted “the third food initiative is the Western Manitoulin Community Garden program. The garden is located at #11218 on Highway 540 (on the right, just west of the intersection with H&M Mini Mart and the OPP station). It is hoped that people who receive Good Food Boxes would come to the garden and add to their food supply by growing their own food in a free plot and enjoy the social and emotional benefits of working on the land with others.” There is a large Good Food Box garden to augment the grocery store offerings and there is always need for volunteer labour there as well as financial support for some of the activities such as the kite festival and Reconciliation Heart Garden planned for this Community Garden season. For more information or to reserve your garden plot, please call Linda Willson at (705) 282-0274.