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Elora principal shifts to new role as head of food bank

After a long career in education, Curt McQueen is now the manager and executive director of the Centre Wellington Food Bank
Curt McQueen began working at the Centre Wellington Food Bank, as a manager, on Jan. 30.

CENTRE WELLINGTON — Curt McQueen started his day on Monday by finishing his role as principal at the Elora Public School and ended it by beginning his role as manager and executive director of the Centre Wellington Food Bank.

McQueen’s new position fits in with his values and what makes him content.

“What it is is a chance for me to move on to something different and new but still do the things I want to do, which is be involved in managing many things at once, working with people, making a daily difference,” McQueen said.

McQueen has lived in Fergus with his wife Cara since 1999.

“And then, I still get to stay in the Centre Wellington community which is where I live and a spot that I really love.”

The challenge of really working with other people is something that McQueen relishes.

“That’s been a motivating thing for me my entire career, has been that challenge of working with different personalities of all ages and being an administrator in the Upper Grand board for 20 years.”

Both having worked in education and starting work at a food bank are places that involve the difficulty of working with others.

“Those are the challenges I welcome every day. Because those challenges, working with people, the benefits far outweigh the challenges. Because you’re, like I said, working at schools, you’re able to make that daily difference with families, with kids at the school, with staff.”

“And just jump into a new role but still be involved with many different personalities, our stakeholders, our partners, our volunteers and the clients.”

McQueen’s first goals at his new role as a food bank manager are to learn and stay out of the way.

“So first off, I guess with any new experience is just being able to be here, take it all in, learn from the members of the board and volunteers who have an excellent system in place.” 

“So I just kind of listen, learn, help out where I can and initially kind of stay out of the way.”

However, McQueen is serious about the problems that the food bank is meant to fight.

“And then moving forward, we’re in a growing community, Centre Wellington is a growing community, and unfortunately what comes with that is a growing need, the problem of food insecurity, people just not having enough.”

The need for the food bank is increasing.

“And in terms of our client base that’s even increased 20 per cent or so since November so there’s still a need.”

Looking beyond the the immediate future, McQueen wants to get food to all those in Centre Wellington who need it.

“So it’s looking forward in terms of how we continue to make sure we’re providing the service to everyone who needs it. We’re continuing to reach out and make sure that if there are people out there who need food, but they haven’t been able to walk through the door, that our outreach is still good and we’re welcoming to those who need it.”

Outside of getting food to those who need it, McQueen is prioritizing fundraising and community partnerships.

“And then still you know, in terms of fundraising and building other partnerships in the community, those are goals of mine once I get my feet wet and figure out everything about the place.”

McQueen worked in education for quite a long period and had the opportunity to work in several different schools.

“So considering I have done this a long time, I’ve the opportunity to be involved with many different schools all around the board from Guelph area to Drayton, north Wellington, up in Mount Forest and then the last few years here in Elora.”

There were aspects to his role as an educator that McQueen really loved.

“So that is a lot of time, building a lot of relationships. And what I still loved every day was just coming to the school each day and solving those daily problems, making those daily connections with the kids and the staff.”

As an educator, McQueen got into the problems and challenges going on in the schools where he worked.

“But in the end it’s still going to be the kids that I miss the most. I loved being in the hallway, going out every day, every recess to help solve the problems on the spot and get to know the kids.”

“I did a quick calculation, I think I’ve gone out for over 8,000 recesses.”

Jesse Gault is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program.