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Employees bring relief and delight to hungry children in Manitoba

As a child growing up in the Philippines, Michelle Funk knew the feeling of going to school without food to eat.

A classroom in the Philippines with young children and teachers sitting at desks.

One of the only photos she has of this time period, Michelle believes she is likely in grade three in this picture.

Enlarge image: A classroom in the Philippines with young children and teachers sitting at desks.

“I remember feeling both embarrassed and sad as I tried to concentrate on other things while kids around me at school were eating,” said Michelle who works as a Business System Analyst at Manitoba Hydro.

“Now that I’m a parent myself, I can’t imagine how hard it was for my mom to know that I didn’t always have food,” said Michelle. “I recall one time when I was away on a three-day field trip, she walked for so long to bring me food that she had scavenged from the neighbours. I know she herself went without food on many occasions.”

Michelle came to Canada when she was 19 and is grateful for all the opportunities she’s had since moving here.

But one thing surprises her.

“To know there are still so many kids here that go without food in such a rich country is sad,” said Michelle who was very happy recently to have a chance to help the cause.

Employees put on their chef hats

“I was just helping to organize it,” said Michelle about an event that was spearheaded by her colleague, Gwenda Matieshin.

Gwenda had seen the article Less soup, more draw about the Stone Soup event which raises much needed funds for the Child Nutrition Council of Manitoba not being able to proceed the way it usually does. Gwenda decided to turn a mingle event her group sometimes holds over lunch break, into a fundraiser for the charity.

“Gwenda loves to cook and she is very good at it. Prior to the pandemic she’d cook something, and we’d pay to cover the cost of the food. Then we’d enjoy time together eating and visiting,” said Michelle. “This time Gwenda suggested that we have our own mini stone soup event to raise funds for the Child Nutrition Council.”

Gwenda and four other employees each made soup at their own expense and sold 60 tickets for soup tasting where all the proceeds would go to feed kids in need.

She and the other soup makers, along with some extra helping hands, met in a church basement to package the soup.

For $15 fellow employees could pick up a package of five different soup varieties, as well as a mini sourdough bread baked by Gwenda.

“In many cases employees donated more than the cost of their ticket,” said Michelle. “Some even donated without getting soup when we sold out.”

Soup of the day was…

Along with Gwenda Matieshin who made Borscht, Donna Ross made a Loaded Baked Potato soup, Bonnie Penno made a Ham and Bean soup, Sandra Smilski made Minestrone, and Trevor James made a Hungarian Mushroom with Dill soup – which received the most votes during the lunchtime online mingle.

For $15 fellow employees could pick up a package of five different soup varieties, as well as a mini sourdough bread baked by Gwenda. All proceeds went to the Child Nutrition Council of Manitoba.

For $15 fellow employees could pick up a package of five different soup varieties, as well as a mini sourdough bread baked by Gwenda. All proceeds went to the Child Nutrition Council of Manitoba.

Enlarge image: For $15 fellow employees could pick up a package of five different soup varieties, as well as a mini sourdough bread baked by Gwenda. All proceeds went to the Child Nutrition Council of Manitoba.

Five soups that went a long way

Together they raised $1,355 for the Child Nutrition Council of Manitoba. While $855 was raised through soup tickets, Manitoba Hydro donated the extra $500 to the Child Nutrition Council of Manitoba through the corporation’s Employee Champion Initiative.

“This is incredibly amazing,” said Viola Prowse, Board of Directors for the Child Nutrition Council of Manitoba. “The teachers and administrators who make use of our programs will really stretch this money to get nutritious food for their students. The funds raised bring relief and delight to the children.”

While the Child Nutrition Council of Manitoba held an online 50/50 this spring in lieu of their popular Stone Soup event, they raised less funds than usual.

“We are incredibly grateful for the imagination, effort, and donations of these employees who took it upon themselves to help out,” said Viola. “Plus, the soups were delicious and so much fun to sample. And then there was the bread!

Learn more about the Child Nutrition Council of Manitoba and how to help fund meal and snack programs in Manitoba schools.


For more stories about the commitment of Manitoba Hydro employees across the province in making their communities safe, vibrant and inclusive places to live, see our Corporate Social Responsibility Report.