Mike Mantha march elevates awareness for Island food bank

Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Michael Mantha was joined by several local residents on his Food Bank March in support of Manitoulin Family Resources (MFR) Help Centre Food Bank last Saturday. The walk began in Kagawong and finished at the MFR food bank in Mindemoya.

MANITOULIN—With more families and individuals needing the services and support provided by the Manitoulin Family Resources Help Centre Food Bank at all times of the year, a 26 kilometre walk taken by Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Michael Mantha and other members of the Manitoulin community this past Saturday (to promote the need for more support) was hailed by Manitoulin Family Resources (MFR) staff.

“Easy peazy,” stated Mr. Mantha as he led a group of walkers off the highway into the MFR food bank parking lot after completing the walk.

“Thank you so much,” stated Nancy McDermid, program coordinator of MFR, after Mr. Mantha and all participants in the walk from the Billings Township office in Kagawong to the MFR building in Mindemoya (held last Saturday) made it to the MFR building in Mindemoya. “Your support is truly appreciated; all of your support and to everyone who participated today.”

Ms. McDermid told the Recorder, “it is really important for us to have this kind of support for a cause like this and for Mike to help raise awareness to support the food bank at all times of the year. The need is always there.”

She explained, “Initially Mike had helped with our Christmas hamper baskets last December, and we were talking about the program and particularly and how in the summer the need for food is still there.”

Ms. McDermid provided some eye opening statistics about how much the food bank is used and needed by Island residents every month of the year. “We (Food Bank) serve on average 313 people per month and provide on average 110 hampers per month. We have on average 16 new referrals every month, and there is an ever increasing need for food to help local families.”

The MFR food bank supports about 131 children of the 313 people on average it supports every month. “People who are disabled, seniors, those on Ontario Works, or can only find work on a part-time basis need help these days. And every community on Manitoulin Island, including Birch Island, uses the services and support we provide at MFR,” continued Ms. McDermid.

“I was totally impressed when Mike said he wanted to hold this march for the food bank,” said Ms. McDermid. “It is a very physically demanding walk and we really appreciate that he wanted to do this and promote the food bank.”

“And we appreciate everything Manitoulin Transport has done today,” said Ms. McDermid.  Manitoulin Transport driver Bill Strathearn picked up non-perishable food items from several designated locations along with march route, from Kagawong to Mindemoya.

“I would like to thank everyone for your efforts, Mike and everyone who took part in the walk, and Nancy (McDermid) and the dedicated staff who work here (MFR) and help so many people on the Island,” said Richard Stephens, mayor of Central Manitoulin.

“Thank you to everyone  who went along with me on the walk and those who helped organize everything, and to Nancy and the staff here who do such an important job,” said Mr. Mantha. “This is something that means a lot to me and something I wanted to do, promote and bring awareness to the MFR food bank. The need for food locally was brought home to me last December when I helped out with the Christmas hamper basket campaign here. This is my way of giving back to the community, to help out.”

Everyone who took part in the walk was wearing a ‘Mantha’s Rays’ t-shirt provided by Mr. Mantha. 

Mr. Mantha told the Recorder, “when I was here last December, Nancy and the staff here were telling me one of the most difficult times for good collection is during the summer. So I asked them what they would think about holding a walk to promote the need for more donations in the summer. That’s where this all got started.”

“I understand the food bank helps over 300 people on the Island every month. And every month people have to pay for hydro, rent, and food and it is difficult for everyone, especially for those on fixed incomes or out of work. It’s fortunate that locally people can count on the generosity of so many people on Manitoulin and throughout the riding of Algoma-Manitoulin,” said Mr. Mantha. “Taking part in this event today allows me a chance to help out and

bring awareness.”