There are questions being raised about the future role of the man who created the Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank 30 years ago.

Mel Boutilier, 85, took a temporary leave in the fall to have his sixth hip replacement.

But now that he’s back, his temporary replacement is still filling the role.

The organization released a statement Thursday, saying it’s undergoing restructuring that began two years ago.

“As is always the case in these kinds of procedures, adjustments have to be made,” wrote Humphrey Longard. “A part of this restructuring is to have a succession plan in place for when Mel Boutilier, our Executive Director, retires or reduces his participation here at PSFFB.”

Boutilier declined to be interviewed by CBC, saying he’s worried it might upset donors. He said the last thing he wants to do is make it more difficult for those who rely on the food bank to get the help they need.

Boutilier’s community efforts have been lauded over the years. He’s a member of the Order of Canada, the Order of Nova Scotia, and he’s received numerous other awards.

Those who use the food bank say he’s invaluable.

Edward McHugh, a marketing professor, said the Parker Street brand is strong, and needs to be preserved.

“There are lots of examples where organizations have a long-term person and it doesn’t end well, from a brand point of view — a business point of view — it’s not good. And from a human point of view, it breaks my heart.”

Boutilier said he’s planning on keeping his commitments to look after the Christmas dinner box program, and while he doesn’t know what his future holds, he hopes to be back at his position at the food bank in the new year.