Food bank warehouse eases operational woes

Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank’s Farquhar Street warehouse is officially open for business.

Peter Sinclair

Peter Sinclair

With a sweep of a broom and a little last-minute cleaning, Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank’s Farquhar Street warehouse is officially open for business.

Renovations on the 640-square-foot building at 1009 Farquhar St. began in early August and the grand opening takes place Saturday (Nov. 12) from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

And it couldn’t happen at a more opportune time.

“It’s a busy place right now and with the Christmas rush approaching, we need the space,” said Peter Sinclair, executive director. “We had a really busy time [at Farquhar] Monday night and I know on Monday morning, our St. Paul’s Lutheran depot had the busiest day they’ve ever had.”

Between its main office and five satellite depots, Loaves and Fishes is serving 800 to 1,200 adults and 400 to 600 children  every week.

Sinclair said the warehouse is going to make the operation more efficient, enabling better service for clients.

The project came in well under its $120,000 budget. Total costs, including future work on the sidewalk and drainage around the office, is estimated at $80,000. More than $45,000 of that was donated by the community.

“We had close to two dozen businesses that donated to the project with windows, trusses, concrete, roofing, siding … you can go down the line of material and time donated,” said Sinclair. “It feels good to know the community is backing what we do down here. You wouldn’t necessarily associate the construction industry with the food bank, but when we had a need, they rallied behind us and provided the services we needed to get it done.”

The warehouse features a walk-in cooler and racking to store donated food on pallets. The one thing lacking is a forklift to help move the pallets.

“The ceiling in the new warehouse is at 15 feet, so we need something that will reach up high to pull the stuff down,” said Sinclair. “Part of what we hope to do at our grand opening is start fundraising specifically for the forklift. We’re looking to raise in the neighbourhood of $15,000 for a unit that will work specifically for us.”

The opening of the warehouse also allows Loaves and Fishes to begin service Nov. 17 at its latest food depot at the Neighbourhood Church, 4951 Rutherford Rd. The new location will operate Thursdays from 7-8 p.m.

Other Loaves and Fishes food bank locations include St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church on Departure Bay Road, Christ Community Church on Bowen Road, Brechin United Church on Estevan Road, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church on Shepherd Avenue and St. Philip’s Anglican Church in Cedar.

For more information on Loaves and Fishes, please go to http:// nanaimoloavesand or call 250-754-8347.