July 8, 2021

Manitoba Harvest, a Conversation with Keren Taylor-Hughes

Manitoba Harvest, a Conversation with Keren Taylor-Hughes

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This podcast was recorded on the ancestral lands on Treaty One territory, the traditional territory of the Anishnawbe, Cree, Oji Cree, Dakota, and the Dene peoples, and on the homeland of the Métis nation.

This is Humans, On Rights. A podcast advocating for the education of human rights.

Here's your host Stuart Murray.

My guest today is Karen Taylor Hughes, she is the CEO of Harvest Manitoba.

In the last 20 years, Taylor Hughes has transitioned through a variety of sectors including first nations government, child welfare, health care, technology, financial services, Agri business, not for profit and education.

These roles have led her to travel and work around north America and abroad.

She's traveled to other countries to do N.


O work such as Thailand and cambodia with food for the hungry and Egypt and Jordan's with global action today, Taylor Hughes is the chief executive officer of Harvest Manitoba, the fourth largest not for profit food bank in Canada, Karen, Taylor Hughes, Welcome to humans on rights, thank you pleasure to be here.

So Karen, your background is fantastic and your journey, your human life journey is incredible.

I just read a bit of it in the introduction but but in your words, how did your journey take you to become the Chief Executive officer of Harvest Manitoba minute journey I think started out as a young child where I saw people in my community take leadership roles in my life and helped me grow and learn to get back to my community whether it was in school where I had a teacher that took an interest or in the community and the community church or in track and field through coaches and I always tell people giving back and helping me get better at what I was doing and I think I saw that it's something that appealed to me, I was gravitated towards it.

So that became sort of what I focused on those opportunities I enjoyed and like helping people get from one stage to the other and see both and acknowledge that and I think my entire career is all about leading change and that's what I specialized in was leading change.

And so we'll come to the fact that part of that leading changes.

You've had a name change where you work, talk about the necessity to do that and why you felt that was important when I came to Winnipeg Harvest as we were called up until about a year ago, we also have a provincial association which is called the Manitoba Association of Food Banks and they were an active group board that worked with Harvests and together we supported the food bank and the agencies across the province.

It came to a point in time where I think jointly recognized that it would make more sense to merge and become one entity and to then be a stronger voice in our community and across our province.

And that Harvest would continue to be the collector and distributor of food to all across the province and take away the confusion of having two different entities.

So luckily um at that time the board chair for mantle association of Food banks, Jim Feeny and I had a great conversation and both four tiers got together and we went through this merger process and actually it was really successful because our goals were aligned and we streamlined and we're more efficient and and certainly through Covid we've seen more effective.

So harvest Manitoba then becomes the sort of umbrella organization.

Karen, is that fair to say?

That's correct.

We have associate numbers and they are food banks, they are schools, they are soup kitchens, shelters a variety of, of areas that serve low income families and our Children and vulnerable people.

I want to touch back a bit on your your life journey because I'm fascinated by the fact that you stamp time coaching and I look at that as part of the ground that your foundation as as kind of your leadership is around coaching.

What was your experiences around coaching?

Talk a little bit about your your your frustrations, but obviously those lead to wonderful um triumphs and things that you see and and you know that experience I think is most people I don't know involved in coaching.

Just say it's it's a wonderful experience, please share yours.

It is a wonderful experience as I mentioned, I was very active as a child and even in junior in elementary started playing basketball and after school recreation with a wonderful fella named paul Graf spee who later on became my high school math teacher and again, just great community leaders that were interested in a lot of athletes and Children athletes don't have the experience of having really good coaches all the time.

I'm fortunate to say I'm probably across five sports and probably 20 plus years.

I never had a bad coach.

I had great people who were invested in me and showed up and supported me.

And I was actually shocked when the club that I ran for for many years, a Cinnabon optimist turned around and asked me to be a coach when you've been after your whole life.

It was quite shocking and I was like, I know nothing about being a coach and I said, that's okay, we'll help you learn, but you've had lots of experience being athletes.

So it's just flipping a coin and then I went and got my national certifications and had an opportunity to coach at club provincial and national levels and just learned how and I learned what I've learned at harvest, its just as wonderful to receive as it is to give and as a coach, you're giving of yourself and it was a great experience.

I worked, I coached for six years, probably three days a week traveled every second weekend for 50 weeks of the year and never once did I leave work and go, I don't want to go to um to track because I'm tired, I got there, I got energy, I got support, I watched athletes grow and mature and I think that was the, my foundation to see that growth and be a part of it.

I knew their parents, we worked as a team and I think just having the experience of being an athlete and then being a coach and be able to set that that those parameters and I would love to support great examples.

I took coaching course at U.


With cal botterill at the time, he was the psychologist for the Chicago Blackhawks, he was amazing and just had lots of good support along the way, I think to become a fairly good coach and I enjoyed it.

So when I took that into the workplace and leading change, I realized I had to coach as well, I had to coach leaders to be successful in leading change.

So it all naturally woke together.

So my journey planned or not, it all sort of dovetails nicely.

All my experiences to get me to where I am.

Yeah, you know, and just cal botterill, just Karen, he was my high school uh visiting, I mean just you know, his, his legacy legend and who he is is is remarkable.

Um just before we move on to what goes on at Harvest Manitoba, let me come back and just ask you what was the biggest adjustment to go from athletes to coach, I think as an athlete, you never think about what a coach has to do to prepare for your workouts and the higher the higher levels of certification, the more sophisticated you are so you have to realize there's micro and macro cycles and you have to know if your goal is to at the end, this is jen september and if your goal is next august to make a junior national team as a coach has a responsibility to ensure the athlete is prepared to be a therapy cause performance for that trial and then maintain it for the end event if it's a junior nationals or a Pan am Games or something.

So there's a lot of time and prep that goes into planning the workouts and the strategies behind that as well because I had more in more knowledge, adding the whole psychology piece of that and how they stay focused and have different warm ups.

Like if you travel for hours on a bus and have dark bus and all of a sudden get off into the field house with bright lights and noise, that can be very jarring and you have to now compete in an hour, how do you do that?

So I think the more I learned, the better I became prepared at it, but as an athlete, I had no idea what was involved in um being a coach and that's actually very similar to being a ceo.

No idea until you're here.

That's a great segue, Karen and I love the, I love the explanation.

So let's segue now to becoming when you came, it was at that time Winnipeg harvest before the change to harvest Manitoba.

As you explained, obviously applied for the job.

You've got great skill sets, your, your, your background.

What was your first impression when you arrived?

What was your first impression of the organization?

The issues that we're facing it?

Well, when I got here again, it's kind of thing that happened in switching over.

I really didn't know that much about Hearts.

I went to the website had a look and I thought, okay, there are food banks and they distributed food but didn't really understand the depth and the breadth of the work that they do.

And when I had walked into the doors, they had just recently unionized and so that was a brand new dynamic.

But working for the government, I work unionized organizations before.

So it didn't bother me, but it was just understanding the culture and seeing that um, you know, we need to enhance the culture and really build trust right away.

We're probably the most important things I think as a leader you want to do certainly as a business person, when I would go out and meet new clients and talk to folks.

One of the first things you do is you talked about your background.

So you build some respect and some they, and they actually realize that you've done this before and you're probably pretty good at it.

That gives you an open door when you come to the Ceo and with a whole bunch of tools and skills, but not once perhaps they've seen or experienced before.

The trust building process was quite um, had to be really specific and building culture was really important.

So I think that was probably, those are some of the things I noticed that I had to work on and again, just really realizing day to day learning more about some the business took the 1st 100 days like most leaders do to look listen and learn.

And I was just completely shocked.

There's so much that goes on here that people have no concept of and I thought that's our job, so let people know what we really do and how much we do.

So I think that was the biggest ha ha was realizing we're so much more than we had ever that people actually really knew about.

It's a great overview of the first days, uh you don't wanna be in a position like that, Karen, I think that one of the challenges when you become, you've got a title, I mean, somebody has to lead the organization, you're the Chief executive Officer and that is a that is a mouthful.

It's a big title and of course, you know, the responsibility, but when you're talking to people in an organization and you're introduced as a Chief executive Officer sometimes on a grassroots organization.

That's a pretty, you know, intimidating title.

How were you able to sort of go through letting people know that maybe my title, but it's not, you know who I am Well because I, you know, as you mentioned, I worked in child welfare and literally worked five minutes from where I'm sitting right now in my 1st 12 years of work.

So I'm familiar with the area, I'm familiar with their clientele and the challenges that they have.

So I think having that knowledge was helpful but I think it was just about being around my door was open.

I'd spent time in all the departments getting to know that people know all their names, learn about them.

I spent a lot of time developing my leaders so they got to know meets, I wanted to start talk down as well as bottom up so that people got a good sense of me and that they would realize that I was there, I was open um and I'm collaborative, I think to lead change, you have to be collaborative and that's sort of been my whole life mantra is leading change and it can't be done alone.

So I really spent time just getting to know people and being excessive and so did that cause the process of how Winnipeg Harvest at that time again, I apologize, I'm gonna go back and forth.

So between Winnipeg harvest and as it currently is called now Harvest Manitoba did that cause any change, Karen in how the organization dealt with those individuals, those families that were looking to be supported through the work that harvest Manitoba does.

What I was able to do was really crystallize what we do and tie everyone to that platform.

I think people were in kind of a little bit of styles, which is very common in organizations even though we're small and grassroots, but I really focused on, we're all here for the same reason and that's to make sure that no Manitoba goes hungry, whether you're the cleaning person's facilities person calling donors to say thank you, we're all on the same page.

And I think that was a really important piece.

So I think when we did that, I think there was always a passion and compassion for those that we served.

I think we just had a greater sense of purpose once we all united on that front.

So Karen, when people ask where you work and you know, and work in a place that as you said, make sure that no, no person goes hungry.

When you think About our conversation today as it is in, in um, in May in June of 2021, you know, how do you answer people and then they kind of look at you quizzically and say, how is it that people don't have access to food.

How do you respond to that?

There are so many layers to that it's poverty.

It's a world of abnormal rearing called war cycle.

It's people being in this perpetual state of poverty legacy issues of residential schools and newcomers not having credentials to get great jobs and struggling because they've got language barriers.

There are so many issues in that put people in this space and um, the fact that, you know, education is quite cost.

So folks can't afford that.

And just the systemic issues you see in families, you know, families are broken down and Children are not getting enough support.

We see highest rates ever of child depression and suicides.

We have a we have a community province, a nation of Children who are struggling and as a result, um, their families are struggling and work in school become inside things.

And as a result, if folks are on assistance or just have disabilities and are getting getting support from the government, Those rates haven't changed in 20 years.

If you can think that What you made 20 years ago and then move that fast forward that to happen to have those same dollars today and go shopping.

That those dollars will don't go very far.

And folks on fixed incomes are really struggling Even since COVID started.

We've seen fresh problems go up 8.3% in Manitoba, not even the non perishables have gone up.

We see less supply of things so people can raise the prices because there's a higher demand and folks who are low income are struggling and that continues to happen.

It's it's hard to imagine in the country, especially Manitoba is a province where we have people that grow in abundance, fruit, vegetables and all these kind of things and we have farmers of all kinds.

Um it's hard to get your head around.

We have a great program where we have folks from different countries, international students that do a year of service.

We've had folks from Russia and from Egypt and all over the world.

And Canada is one of those top places in the world to live.

And they come here and their shots that there are people that live here in parts of Manitoba don't have running water.

They can't believe that, you know, I spent some time at at ST boniface Hospital Foundation and you know, one of they have a humanitarian award there and and a number of us were successful in bringing Sir bob Geldof in to speak.

And you know, his whole thing was he looked at poverty in in in africa and just of course he was very active in that file.

But to your point, he said almost the same thing when we talked about, you know, sort of hunger in Manitoba.

His comment was, you know, Manitoba's the cornflake capital of Canada.

How is it possible with all the food you produce that people are hungry.

So, you know, I i your answer is is very much appreciated because it is, it is a difficult, it's not a one solution answer.

It's it's it's very layered and your explanation is excellent.

So, thank you for that.


I want to get a bit of a sense because you touched on Covid, how how have your operations, How have they been impacted by Covid?

Because presumably, you know, you can't have people as you normally would coming in to get hampers, etcetera.

So how have you pivoted to deal with that?

It's a very good for taking me back to my basketball days totally.

I was a guard.

So pivoting was a big part of my job.

We had to and I look back now, you know, 15 months in.

I can barely remember march of last year when this started.

But I knew that myself and my leadership team literally were in at seven a.m.

Every morning and we met with our leaders every single day and our managers and our staff almost every second day to look at the challenges.

And one of the first things and to decide was in order to we we knew we were an essential service.

So we had to keep food flowing.

So I had to figure out how do I keep the people that work for us, what we call our crew?

How do I keep them safe and feel that it's okay to come to work when everyone's been telling me to stay home.

So I decided right away to lock our doors, We never have our doors locked before.

If you've been here in the past, it's kind of a community center that would wander in.

They would volunteer to go for coffee in the kitchen.

It was a place, a safe place to be.

But all of a sudden in order for me to keep our staff safe and leaving their families and coming to harvest to serve other families, we need to lock our doors.

We close our onset food bank.

And then again, was to keep the traffic down.

So we knew who was entering the building and keeping them safe.

We put in extensive protocols around cleaning and social distancing.

We have signs, we have marks on the floor.

We did all kinds of things.

We worked closely with our health inspector to make sure we haven't missed anything.

And he came in, I think week two, I was like, okay, you guys are on the right track.

Things are good.

Um, and I talked to, I talked to our staff, we have several staff that have young families and I would check in with them and say, do you feel safe coming to work?

And they said, I've never not felt safe coming here since Covid started because we do all the things that we do.

So that was the biggest piece was first of all, making sure my staff felt safe and comfortable coming.

We had a great support because we closed all of our volunteers at that time.

And the first lockdown and the city had to close a lot of their public spaces, libraries, pools, etcetera.

So they've been a great supporter and a great help.

So we were able to work with them to second a group of librarians to come in every day and work with us to help us again sort and package the food to get out, which was tremendous.

So we had the same population every day and they came for three.

They were this for three months, the first time and the second lockdown, we had another group of aquatics folks that came for three months to help us.

So without that support literally would have all been on the floor packing hampers every day and we would not have picked up.

So we had to also change our entire warehouse structure.

We used to have 200 volunteers come in in the morning and two in the afternoon and then sitting in the evening and on weekends we were down to 30 volunteers.

So we had to figure out how to work more efficiently to serve more folks because of covid, but also make sure we could get it done.

So we reached out to our friends at Boeing their assembly line people.

They help us set up assembly lines for hand for creation, um, all over our building in our warehouse so we can social distance.

And then we reached out to do what I've been starting to help us put in bed, lean and continuous improvement into our warehouse, which now makes us far more effective for social distance and we're actually serving more people than we've ever served before with less people doing the work.

I guess you always look at some of the difficulties that come with the challenges of Covid, but the way you've explained it, I mean, again, reaching out to partners, uh, you know, like do ha Boeing and and you know, bringing them into system or putting a system in place that that helps you to streamline what you're doing.

You know, that has to be, I guess looked at a bit of a silver lining, something that is um, is really sort of beneficial to the ongoing operation of what happens at harvest Manitoba.


Now, that because we have those processes in place, we know exactly if our numbers were to spike up suddenly they've been growing consistently.

But if they spiked and we needed more hampers, you've been created.

You know exactly how many hampers we can create in a two hour session, you know, all those things.

So now we are much able to manage our volunteer numbers and we know where they need to be what stations need to be at and it makes now doing what we do so much easier.

So it is a silver lining for sure.

So, Karen, a lot of times those of us that have gone to public events typically there were kind of tins for the bin, you could make a donation.

Well, of course now with Covid, there are no public events.

So what kind of impact has that had on?

How you're able to provide product and produce for, for those that come to uh, to harvest Manitoba.

We've seen absent flows over the 15 months and I think it's both the crisis initially and I think now we're seeing a bit more of the fatigue.

But when we stopped having events and people knew that we were short on food because public, the public was bought bulk, buy it if you remember back in the days you go and the shelves were bare because they couldn't keep up in the grocery stores with the supply um, of the demand that was there for their products.

So we get, get outreach through.

Some of our partners version radio, etcetera talked about, you know, harvest needs help.

Um, and we saw a tremendous outpour the public doing contact, less food drives in their communities.

We had em, Ella's and city councilors in their neighborhoods, put up flyers and say on this day we're gonna drive around to the truck if you've got non perishables, here's the top 10, put them on your front doorstep and we'll pick them up.

We had thousands of pounds of food come in that way.

Companies that were now either isolating or working very small skeleton crews did food drives in their offices and and drop them off, um, we saw just so much support that way, but it still wasn't enough because the gap from the retail sector, which is our biggest, um, provider of non perishables and perishables really dropped.

So we had to actually get funds and we got that support from the public to purchase food because we had to, for the first time in our history purchased food to go into our hampers.

We didn't have enough well, and that is unusual for sure.

But you do what you have to do.

I mean, again, in your capacity as the ceo, I mean that's a leadership role that you have to take and obviously for the right reasons, but you know, Karen, I I guess it's just one of the, the elements that I think is worth, just sort of coming back to for a quick second when you talk about these, you know, mLS or city councilors or whoever it may be, you know, that's fulfilling their role.

But really the public, the people that would come out to, you know, put something on the back of a pickup truck or back of something.

I mean, you know, I guess Winnipeg is really a city that really does care and I think that that is worth, uh, you know, sort of a double mention if you will, so, you know, good on you to work and reach out to allow people to sort of participate, But that's just massive.

You know, in terms of caring, you know, it really was and we didn't know what to expect.

So when the food stopped flowing and then we went out to the public, the outpour or the in pouring of food truly reminded us, we know managed opens as a whole across the country are very generous, but we got to experience that and there are many times that we had tears in our eyes that folks would come.

We had a group, I forget which group it was a plumbing company that a christmas decided to do a food drive for all their, all their clients as well as their, all of their partners and their staff and they had about 40 trucks, they used for their business and they crammed them with food and they were lined up down the street just dropping off into the bin and literally you were crying, we were crying, they were so touched and I think people, it's an experience.

I get goose bumps thinking about it now to see that people really care about each other and about community and we talk about the case of province to theater province and Manitoba's have stepped up.

Winnipeg jets have stepped up, our growers and producers have stepped up, we got new partners and chicken producers.

Egg, egg producers, we've got good partners with dairy and cheese and milk.

It's, you know, we're so uniquely positioned in the country when it comes to food banking, We're the only food bank that has a 30 plus year relationship With the dairy farmers that allows us to get Children under 12 milk every time we serve them.

And they get cheese as well.

No one else has that.

We have things in place.

The work done before I got here by David and his dedication built strong partnerships that just continued to grow and through this crisis we've seen that really come to life and everyone stepped up and stepped in to fill the gap.

It's been truly amazing.


And you know, I just want to acknowledge your style of leadership to, to give a shout out to David Northcott who was involved.

I think many, many people know, uh, for whatever reason, sometimes it's hard for the new Ceo to give a shout out to the, to the old, but good for you for doing that.


I mean, you're clearly building on that foundation and advancing it and making it your own.

And, and that's, you know, what good organizations do.

Um, I want to just touch on one of the things that I think is very interesting that that harvest does and that is they, a lot of the volunteers are and it might are they would you use the term clients?

People that use your service to their clients.

So a lot of the volunteers that work in harvest are also clients of harvest.

That that's a very, very interesting and unique situation.

I would think that's the giving and receiving.

So when folks know they can call hardest, we asked very few questions and you know, we asked them what their situation is, what their family sizes, age of Children, etcetera to make sure the hamper they get will meet their needs for food support.

But when they realize it's free and really it's kind of barrier less to get that support, I think people are so touched that they think if I can give back and help, I will and they volunteer because that's important to them because they know they've been helped and we had a great experience.

Um Fisher River is a community just outside the city that has a, has a food bank and we did a special summer pop up in the, when kids were home over the summer months after being home for months after spring break, we did a pop up where we gave packages for a week for every child in that community and several others, they were so touched.

At one point they were able to do their own community food drive and bring food back for other food banks and they said we want to give back because you guys have given to us and we can now do something.

It's that reciprocity and that's that continuous thing.

It's where it's just as good to give as it is to see such great stories, Karen and and and one of the challenges is how do you get a chance to sort of share all of those stories because that's positive news.

You know, it's great news, it's under difficult circumstances, but great news.

Let me pose a question to you which you know, your your your background, your your your agent of change, you've got a business sort of acumen, you have a driver of so many elements that would talk about how do you build and build and build and build when ironically the mission of Manitoba, harvest or harvest Manitoba is to really put yourself out of business.

So you know that is such a judge.

I mean just an odd way to approach an organization yet so important is there a model that you're aware of Karen that has actually been able to sort of show that that has worked well, this is one of those moments, we're gonna have to redo this because we changed our vision and mission and that was something when I was interviewed for the job knowing welfare for so long, I knew putting ourselves out of business was not even realistic.

So when we changed our name, we changed our vision to working together towards a healthier future for all or no Manitoba and was hungry and we talked about that in that giving and taking and receiving, so we can be healthier and and feel better about ourselves by giving me a lot of people that receive are also going to be healthier as well.

And our mission is about three things collecting and distributing food providing client centered long term solutions.

We have training programs and then advocating and informing.

So we did change it because and that's, that's typical now of the sector, I think when the industry started in the sector began, people felt it was going to be stopped at and things would get better, but with, you know, Fixed incomes based on 20 years ago, um, that gap is only getting bigger and not smaller.

So we realized that wasn't really a statement that could be possible at this point.


And I don't say this in a, in a tone to congratulate you, Karen, but I do say it this way that I think what you've done is you've looked at a situation said, what is realistic?

Like let's ensure that we have goals that are real, that are achievable.

So the way that you have, again, I'll just use your point guard terminology.

I believe you've pivoted to that I think is one that people can embrace, you know, that they didn't get behind, not that they couldn't before, but, you know, it was just such a, such a stretch to be able to do that.

I mean a great stretch, but a stretch nonetheless talk a little bit about advocacy.

Um, it's one of your three goals you mentioned talk a bit about the education, advocacy and and and how is that working and what are your platforms?

I think as you mentioned, what's most important is reminding people what we do and why we do it.

And I think that's where advocacy comes in.

We have an advocacy impact leader that works in the community.

And we've really again positioned ourselves to focus as just mentioned, poverty is so complex.

We've really positioned ourselves to talk about poverty as it reflects food and food security or insecurity.

So we talked about that, we just did some research that we're launching in the middle of june called Harvest Voices when we talked to the folks who get food from us to learn more about them and the more we learn about them and their challenges and barriers, the more we can share that with all Manitoba is to understand what is their reality, What who who comes to harvest, why do they come to harvest?

Why do we need this kind of service?

That's the advocacy is all about.

Um, we talked about things like for example, um truth and reconciliation and the fact that so many people, especially when I worked in child welfare in in a community like with lots of indigenous families, I found so many of my friends and colleagues that work in different sectors didn't really know the stories and didn't understand why people were in this space and I think it's because it was never really told in a way that the grass.

So I think it's important for us to advocate for things that we think will make a difference in the lives of those who served.

So definitely it's about, um, we talked about school nutrition programs.

Studies have, have shown for decades that when you provide nutritious meals for Children in schools, it does two things that fuels our body for healthy growth and learning.

But it also keeps Children coming to school where families are struggling and kids know they can go to school in the morning and get a hot breakfast and get a good lunch and meal in a snack if that's the only reason they come to school and learning will be a byproduct of that.

So we wanted to support that.

So that's one of our goals is that we would love to see more support in the schools, especially in the low income areas where they have that support for the families.

We talked about the importance of childcare.

We know that there are lots of single parents, mothers and fathers raising Children and because of barriers aren't able to go to work because they provide because they could care for their Children if there was more subsidized daycare for Children.

Children get a lot of different experiences.

First of all, they get early childhood development support.

So they're learning to be better equipped to go into the school system earlier, mom is going to work.

So now there's a match now there's a confidence and a pride and you want to support your family that everyone wants to have and make sure that kids have someone to look up to and you can take care of the family.

And thirdly Children that studies prove that Children that have early childhood education go further and are more successful in school.

So um I was at a meeting in Ottawa Several years ago and I met a member there who stated that in the 60s they got involved in politics and talking about what was going on in their community because they wanted a national childcare program and she said, I can't believe at that time it was 2018 and we still don't have one.


So child care is very important to us.

It makes a huge difference to our families.

So those are, and we talked about the north, we know there's a huge imbalance inequity in terms of service to the north and trying to help provides solutions and supports to ensure that there are, there are programs and there's food and opportunities people live in the north to just drive and be successful.

Yeah, I think that's such an important point that you make and I want to just spend a moment on just you know, sort of some of the numbers and I don't know if these are accurate.

I, I took them off your website, Karen, but you know, as I said Manitoba harvest by the numbers 11,000,403 £822 of food are received, $156,500 or volunteer from 7,985 volunteers, 7,097 people reached by community activities.

4,212 of them students.

And I guess the one that sort of really struck me at the bottom was Just the number 450, for adults, 313, Children.

And when you talk about this notion of having, you know breakfast for Children, ensuring that that allows them to go, I mean, those those numbers, are staggering.

but what on the other side of this equation is what you're doing about it.

And I think that's what's so important about the message that has to come from Harvest Manitoba that those are the elements of change that you're bringing to try to make this a better community.

Yes, we have that I think, and I've tried to remember, I think were the second highest child poverty new york, the second highest child poverty rate in the country, behind none of its, which is right above us.

And right now it's about one in five Children are suffering from food insecurity.

So um we have a very large and 46% of all the folks that we serve, which is now over 80,000 a month, 46% of that 80,000 our Children.

So we are really trying to build a healthier future for many Children's and we know part of that is making sure Children are fed and educated because we've certainly seen the impacts of Children who are leaving the system, who have been in different systems that have no education, They don't have anywhere to go things to do.

And we see crime rising.

So we think food combat everything and it can combat crime.

If Children can eat during, get to daycare early, have meals, go to school, be successful, they'll come out and they'll get jobs.

So we're trying to support the Children in schools as well as we have our training programs that help those Children before.

They didn't have a great background in education because of life circumstances.

We have out of sight of COVID our training programs for Children 16 and up to give them opportunities to get good paying jobs to get out of this system and get into a healthier future for them.

Such an unfortunate situation.

But again, you know, again, through a caring lens, through a human rights lens, everybody, you know, food is a, is a right and the work that you're doing there is is really extraordinary.

Um, one of the things that I would, I would ask in your level, in your capacity, uh, being an agent of change.

You've already brought a lot of change to harvest Manitoba.

You know when I talked to these podcasts, Karen, typically I asked the ceo is the presidents that are the leaders in the organization, how they would like to be remembered.

I would think I would like, first of all my crew is what we call our staff.

Our crew would feel that they have been impacted in such a way where they have seen their own personal growth.

I've invested not only in my leaders but also in our organizations professional development.

I think that's really important.

So I'm feeling that they had felt valued and respected and heard that that's the first thing I would say for the public that they have a better sense of who harvest is and what we do and the impact of what we do and that will that will continue.

And then I think personally program that I started in support of child's mail programs is Breakfast to Go, which is a weekend breakfast program for kids that we have expanded now into some of the northern communities and we now expanded further into the summer months.

So that's um if I were to have a legacy, I think that would be one of them, you know, I could say yes, we became more efficient and more effective.

We've got better storytelling, but I think having an impact on the community that the kids in programs like breakfast to go or getting those summer meal programs, will this help them continue to grow and be interested and want to participate in education have a better future.

I think that would be the goal of anyone in this kind of environment is to just again, healthier future for Manitoba's and give kids a really good start.

Well, I think that one of the pieces that I read about you is the comment was Karen, Taylor Hughes a leader who serves and clearly that is what you have done in your journey, what you continue to do and um I want to wrap this wonderful conversation up today, Karen by just saying that in my opinion, as a point guard, I see you hitting threes outside the key constantly and how you've managed your life and your journey and I want to thank you for taking some time and I just want to close with this, that one of the things that that harvest does extremely well is they say, look, you can give to harvest in three ways, one is food, one is time through donation, of course, one is through money, financial donation and I think that is just a tremendous recipe for success.

Is there one of those areas, Karen, that anybody that might be listening to this podcast would say or you would tell them that if there's, you know, I mean, it's obviously a changing dynamic, but if there's one area that would say, you know, here's an area that we could really use some help in of the three.

Is there one that's more a bit of a priority than others as we speak today?

You're right.

It does move from day to day, week to week.

The priorities.

But I would say we are definitely during this particular time, volunteers are important.

We have a really safe space.

We have a group of volunteers that come regularly and new folks are coming in.

But I think that people are feeling a little house bound and they feel it's okay to leave their home if they're feeling comfortable, we have a very safe environment.

We wear masks, we wear gloves, we've got cleaning protocols, we've got hand sanitizer.

People are socially distanced, but you're still serving your community.

So volunteering is a great way to help.

Right now.

I am going again.


Taylor Hughes, thank you for spending some time with me on Humans on rights.

It has been a pleasure to shot with you to learn from you again, I can't help but close on a basketball analogy.

And as you go through your continue your journey in life, I wish you nothing but net.

Thank you very much.

Humans on rights is recorded and hosted by Stuart Murray.

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