Since they began regularly donating fresh bread and pastries to Winnipeg Harvest in 2003, Natural Bakery has donated an astonishing 6.5 million pounds of bread to help feed Manitoba’s hungry.
Rennie Balciunas is the fourth generation of Natural Bakery leaders after his great-grandfather opened the bakery in 1957. He says it wasn’t a difficult choice to start supporting Winnipeg Harvest.
“We didn’t have to look very far in our own neighbourhood to see people looking for food in places they probably shouldn’t be,” said Balciunas. “And we saw Winnipeg Harvest was managing the donations fairly and effectively, so we felt that if we gave it to them we’d know it was going to where it needed to go.”
Each day, Natural Bakery bakes around 500 loaves of rye bread specifically for delivery to Winnipeg Harvest in addition to any surplus from that day’s production run. Balciunas adds that in a case where a retail delivery cannot go out as scheduled, they’re quick to call Winnipeg Harvest to pick it up instead of leaving it to sit for a day in the warehouse.
“Anyone’s life can change in a heartbeat,” said Balciunas. “One second and you’re the one needing a hand so it’s a way we can help out people who need it and we’re glad to do it.”