About Us

Our Approach

The Rural Cupboard Food Bank is operated solely by volunteers who have dedicated their time and efforts to helping people in need. Many of our friends and neighbours struggle to put food on the table each day. Some have to choose between buying food and paying the rent. The Rural Cupboard Food Bank was established in response to this need in 2003 by Parvin Halabecki, who saw the problem and acted on it. Rural residents are unable to use the food banks in the City of Thunder Bay, so Parvin started one for rural area residents. The food bank started out in the basement of the United Church in the village of Kakabeka Falls, but we eventually outgrew our space and partnered with the Township of Conmee for a new warehouse. The Food Bank began by giving out 4 or 5 hampers each month. Today, the Food Bank distributes between 70 and 100 hampers of food a month, containing enough food for one week, and with extras for school lunches and infant needs. We operate through the generosity of people who give freely of their time and money to help us accomplish our goals.

The Rural Cupboard Food Bank serves rural residents in a catchment area that stretches from the US Border in the south, to Pass Lake in the northeast, and west to Upsala. Clients come from the Townships of Conmee, Gillies, and O’Connor and the Municipalities of Neebing, Oliver Paipoonge and Shuniah. We also serve clients in the unincorporated areas surrounding the City of Thunder Bay. You must live outside of the City of Thunder Bay to qualify to use the Rural Cupboard Food Bank.

We believe that all clients should be treated with dignity and respect. Clients are expected to provide basic information only including proof of rural residence. We do not request financial information or that they prove their “need” for our services.


Mark Halabecki


Mark joined The Rural Cupboard Food Bank in 2000 and carries on his mother’s (Parvin Halabecki) legacy of public service.  Mark has served as a student volunteer, shopper, Treasurer, Vice-Chair, and most recently Chair of the Board for the last 10 years.  Mark is a Registered Social Worker by profession for the past 12 years, and currently works with individuals with chronic pain and mental health.  He is passionate about advocating for clients through his work, union involvement (OPSEU), and volunteering with the Food Bank and the Oliver Paipoonge Fire & Emergency Services and other community agencies.

Kevin Halabecki


Kevin also joined The Rural Cupboard Food Bank in 2000.  Kevin is currently Vice Chair and helps guide the operations of the Food Bank as per his mother’s vision of food security for all.

Gladys Grant


Gladys is one of the founding members of the Rural Cupboard Food Bank since it opened in 2000.  She has been volunteering with the Food Bank since then, serving on the board in differing capacities, including: Chair, Vice-Chair, and most recently as the Public Relations Coordinator for the past several years.  She continues to be an integral member of the board and helping at each of the food distribution days.

Kimm White


Kimm became a Board  Member in 200? and currently serves as Treasurer. Kimm brings her knowledge of accounting and bookkeeping to help the Food Bank keep operating each month.

Lucy Kloosterhuis


Lucy is Mayor of Oliver Paipoonge and has been appointed by her Council to be a representative on the Board. Lucy currently serves on the Executive Committee and the Budget Committee.

Leslie Kivisto


Leslie is a Councillor from Conmee and has been appointed by her Council to be a representative on the Board.