County residents are being challenged to hit the water a few weeks early this year to help fund operations at the Minden Community Food Centre.

Executive director, Jean Munroe, said the organization is introducing a new fundraiser next month, encouraging community members to embrace the Jump in the Lake challenge. Taking place May 6, the event will see participants raise money for the food bank before plunging into the barely thawed depths of their chosen local lake.

“We’re leaning on the success of another fundraiser started by Dean Michel and Jennifer Bacon in Coboconk several years ago to raise money for a new wellness centre in their community,” Munroe said, speaking to the inspiration. “It was a huge hit and helped raise more than $125,000… we’re really hoping it can be a success for us here in Minden.”

Michel, a real estate agent with Century 21 in Minden, endorsed this new offshoot, saying it can be a tremendous way to bring the community together for a great cause.

Demand at Minden’s food bank has spiked again through the first quarter of 2023. Munroe said she’s seen an average of 285 people a month come through the doors during the first three months of this year, up from 232 people a month in 2022.

“We’re definitely seeing an upward trend. With the increased cost of housing, food, gas – many families in our community are struggling,” she said. “We’ve been very busy and we’re expecting that to continue.”

Munroe said she’s hoping to bring in around $10,000 through Jump in the Lake. That money is sorely needed at a time that the food bank is seeing its food costs increase as much as 25 to 30 per cent for some of its staple products, such as milk, meats, and fruit. While the hub does receive monthly donations of things like vegetables and tinned items, Munroe said she buys around 60 per cent of the food that goes out the door.

Amanda Federchuk is helping to lead this new initiative, after taking the plunge herself for the past three years.

“At the beginning of the pandemic there were lots of fears about food insecurity and job security… I heard about the Jump in the Lake challenge [and decided] to do my own one-off version for Minden,” Federchuk said.

“This was in 2020, but I loved it so much I’ve been doing it ever since.”

In 2022 she raised $1,000 for the food centre.

“It’s so much fun. Every year I’ve had neighbours come out to watch me jump and cheer me on… in the days leading up to the jump, you start to psych yourself out about how cold it’s going to be, but in the end it’s just five cold minutes one day a year for a great cause,” she said. “You warm up again in no time.”

Munroe said she’ll be participating this year, as part of a team that will be plunging into Horseshoe Lake.

By getting the word out early, she’s hoping to inspire as many people as possible to take part.

part. “We need all the help we can get right now as we try to meet the growing needs of our community. We’re seeing more seniors, more young families depend on us for healthy, nutritious foods,” Munroe said. “This is a great way to give back and have some fun while doing it.”

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