The woman who created Winnipeg's largest food bank has died.

Lee Newton died this weekend from brain cancer. She was 61.

Newton founded Winnipeg Harvest in 1985 after seeing a story on TV about a food bank created by a group of nuns in New York City.

But Newton didn’t want to open a place where people came to line up for handouts. Instead, she decided to open a distribution centre, where donated food would be redistributed to social agencies, according to Winnipeg Harvest's website.

From that start, Winnipeg Harvest now provides food to more than 320 agencies in Manitoba every month.

Harvest executive director David Northcott said Newton was an amazing person with a "significant, stubborn spirit that had a big, big heart attached to it.

"[She] just said, 'this is good, let's make this happen.' And she had that persistency of spirit through her whole life."

Northcott said it's especially sad to lose someone so young.

A volunteer award will be named in her honour at Winnipeg Harvest, he added.