Lyons Memorial United Church has seen an increase in users of its Food Cupboard

Volunteers of the Food Cupboard at Lyons Memorial United Church in Gore Bay pose for a photo before packing 25 boxes of food items for families in need last week. From left is Kathy Mutch, Rose Jackson, Vicky Wright and Barbara Barfoot.

Need is expected to increase further

GORE BAY – Lyons Memorial United Church in Gore Bay has seen an increase in the number of individuals and families using its Food Cupboard recently.

“We have certainly seen an increase in the last month or so and we expect more as the summer goes on,” said Kathy Mutch, one of the Food Cupboard volunteers. “We are pleased that the Gore Bay Rotary Club is going to be helping out by holding a fundraiser (Bay to Bay 150 kilometre ride) to raise funds for the Food Cupboard. We certainly appreciate their support.”

Ms. Mutch said, “it’s a very interesting thing this whole food insecurity thing. It is complicated. A lot of people have lost their jobs and are struggling, but for many of them it is not easy for them to come forward to ask for help. So, we are surprised at the number of people that have come forward to ask for help from the Food Cupboard.”

She pointed out that while the Food Cupboard is open to everyone in Gore Bay and the neighbouring municipalities, “we realize that if people can’t afford to buy food, it also means that they can’t buy gas for their vehicles. It means we are delivering more food boxes than we had originally expected. And so we are also asking people who know of someone or a family who is struggling, to pick up a couple of boxes or items for them.”

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic there has been extra food coming into Gore Bay through a school program that Cody Leeson, child nutrition co-ordinator for Noojmowin Teg, has organized from the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Program. Each of the 11 Island communities receiving the fruit and veggies arranges to have the food picked up in Little Current and distributes it to households that have children in the home and/or vulnerable populations. In Gore Bay the food has been delivered to Charles C. McLean Public School with families picking up these items there. This program will continue until the end of July.

The Food Cupboard has been supplementing this program with its food boxes and this will continue through the summer. 

“No, we don’t have an exact count on how many people have been laid off from their jobs in the area,” said Ms. Mutch, “but we do know there are several families that can’t feed their children without help.” 

Kathy Mutch, left, and Rose Jackson pack one of the food boxes to be delivered to a local family from the Lyons Memorial United Church Food Cupboard.

The Lyons Memorial United Church Food Cupboard is open every Thursday afternoon from 12 noon to 3 pm. “We might normally get one to three people coming in seeking food. But there are 25 at risk families in the area (taking in Gore Bay, Gordon/Barrie Island, Burpee, Kagawong and Western Manitoulin) that we have been providing food boxes for. They have been receiving the food boxes on a fairly regular basis, and will be continuing this for the summer, probably every second week. We receive good support but we are hoping more people will provide donations toward the Food Cupboard so we can keep up to the demand. We have received some donations, and anyone who would like to help could make their cheques out to the Lyons Memorial United Church Food Cupboard and they will receive a tax receipt.”

“The Gore Bay Rotary Club will be donating whatever they make in their fundraising ride,” said Ms. Mutch, who pointed out the church itself had to purchase $850 for groceries for the Food Cupboard two weeks ago.  “I couldn’t believe, as we put items in the 25 boxes for the families, how much of our stock was depleted. We will continue to gladly take donations to continue to stock the shelves, and this program and others support will be vital for those families in need.”

“There are some people that really need this help,” said Ms. Mutch. “We still feel there are probably some people out there that are too proud  to ask for help. They need to realize they are not alone; there are a lot of people who need help these days.”

Next week’s Recorder will feature Rotary Club member Peter Carter, who will be taking part in the Bay to Bay 150 kilometre ride from the Lyons Memorial United Church in Gore Bay to Meldrum Bay and back in August. The local service club is hoping to raise $5,000 through this event for the church’s Food Cupboard.