AGM Message from outgoing president Carolyn Horne

After seven years at the helm, Carolyn Horne stepped down as president of the Manna Food Bank at the AGM on Wednesday November 2nd.

Thank you so much, Carolyn, for all that you have done for Manna. You have been a strong and solid leader for the organization and we will miss you very much.

Here is her report to the board.

Our food bank runs extremely well for two reasons. The first is that we have a group of talented, dedicated and reliable volunteers and board members. These people are our backbone, and each and every one of you deserves a Volunteer of the Year award. Your efforts are truly appreciated.

The second reason that we do so well is that we have exceptional support from our community. We are supported in so many ways – businesses, schools, organizations and individuals  that constantly give food or monetary donations. Your support is greatly appreciated and necessary as it allows the food bank to forward your generosity to those who really need it. This year we are finding that more and more young people are getting involved in the support of our organization, and we look forward to working with them in the future.

I cannot say enough about our volunteer board members, who give their time to help those who are less fortunate. Jim Hartill does an amazing job as our food purchaser. I wish he would do my grocery shopping, as I am sure I would see a reduction in my food bill. Jim Brown is our secretary and our Jack-of-all-trades. Wendee Cameron, as our treasurer, has managed to bring us in on budget. Jan Dickenson manages a smooth running and very successful envelope campaign. Garry Thompson takes care of the Fall Food Drive, run by the Muskoka Oldtimers Hockey Club, that fills the shelves with food each year. Karen Terry keeps rolling all those coins that the coin boxes bring in. Sheila Gossen keeps the volunteers in line. Jo-Anne Boulding makes sure that what we do is legal. Tamsen Tillson has set up our website, www.mannafoodbank.ca, has us on Facebook, Twitter and heaven knows where else. Check them all out. She did manage to come up with a grant to help pay for it all. Mike Heptinstall, Errol Reid and myself do whatever we are told to do. All in all it has seemed to work out well as we have had another very successful year. Thanks to each and every one of you for a job well done. Errol and Joanne have stated that they will not be returning to the board this year. A special thank you to you both for all your help and input.

Dianna Eaton was busy clipping and posting to the Archives last night. The book is here for you to look at. Thanks, Dianna, for all your work.

The Bracebridge Lions Club must also be thanked for our physical space downstairs in the Lions Hall. They continue to support our operation and we could not ask for a more helpful and reasonable landlord.

We must acknowledge Independent Grocer for their support. Guy and Judy Gagnon and their staff hold two food drives a year which ensure that we have the shelves stocked for 12 months.

Mr. Sub continues to donate their day-old buns, which are much appreciated by our clients.

Morley Stevens Butcher Shop in Port Carling continues to be one of our exceptional supporters. When meat is available, it usually comes courtesy of Morley. He really has been amazing.

Fenbrook Institution provides us with fresh produce all summer.

The list goes on and on. I have just learned that Gravenhurst Home Hardware is holding a couple of events supporting the food bank. They have directed the food collected to us, realizing that we have been serving Gravenhurst clients over the years. It is great to have business recognition and support from Gravenhurst.

Listening to the television the other day, I heard that approximately 851,000 people in Canada are currently using food banks. The Hunger Count 2011, which was released yesterday, reveals that 395,106 Ontarians accessed food banks in 2011. This is a slight decrease of 1.7% over last year. These are incredible statistics that make one realize that food banks are not Nice to Have, but a Real Necessity.

The client numbers from Manna’s Annual Food Count in March of this year indicate a 3% drop in the number of households that used the food bank in 2011 versus 2010. (2011-639 households per month versus 2010 – 660 households per month). Approximately 60% of our clients are from the Bracebridge area, 25% from Gravenhurst, and the balance, 15%, from other Muskoka communities. Less than 7% of our clients used the food bank nine or more times during the 12-month survey period. Only 21% of our clients stated employment as their income source. Client feedback indicates that there was not a lot of work this year, and some were not called back or had their hours cut back. The sagging economy is taking its toll; many of our clients are having a much more difficult time coping during these times. Hydro, fuel, insurance, etc. etc.

The good news is that we are here, and are going to be here for those who need us. Once again, we must say thank you to our community for all its generous support and to you the volunteers, who give your time so freely.

After seven years I have decided that it is time for someone new to take over as president. I have found that my Best Before date is long past. New ideas and new faces are always good. I have met a large number of great people, certainly learned what is involved to run a food bank, and just how much need there is in the area. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as president, and for that I thank you from the bottom of my heart. A special thanks to Tamsen for putting just the right words into my mouth for all of my newspaper articles. It goes without saying that I will still be involved and will help whenever and wherever I can. Yes, I will bake cookies for the food drive next October.

“Remember, you are really making a difference to someone in Our Community.” Thank you.

Check us out at www. mannafoodbank.ca.