Hungry Cedar residents can now access food closer to home thanks to a new food bank depot in the community.
The Nanaimo Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank partnered with the St. Philip Anglican Church congregation to open the satellite depot March 2. The congregation provides space and volunteers while Loaves and Fishes provides the food.
Peter Sinclair, executive director of Loaves and Fishes, said some clients were walking from Cedar to the main Farquhar Street location.
“It shows how hungry people are if they walk that distance. The clients are definitely happy it’s there,” he said. “We’re happy we can meet the need, but sad that need is there in the first place.”
On opening day, the depot attracted about four people and last week it served 29 single individuals and 10 children.
Geoff Macaulay, a member of St. Philips’ congregation and volunteer at the food bank, said the depot is a stop-gap measure.
“Quite often money is tight and budgets are stretched and it could well be the difference between starving or losing a couple of meals,” he said. “Everyone is welcome. We don’t discriminate. If they come in here with need, we will look after them.”
The satellite depot is the fifth established in an effort to create locations closer to individuals in need.
Other satellite locations include Christ Community Church on Bowen Road, St. Andrews on Departure Bay Road, St Paul’s on Shepherd Avenue and Brechin United Church on Estevan Road. The Cedar depot is open Wednesdays from 2-3 p.m. and is at St. Philips Anglican Church, located at 1797 Cedar Rd.
This summer, Loaves and Fishes will also begin renovating its warehouse at the main food bank location to increase food storage space.
Currently, some food items, such as milk and eggs, are stored off site at donated space provided by Nanaimo Cold Storage. Volunteers transport the items between locations.
Food bags are also being piled in the main room of the office building, which means there isn’t enough space for clients to sit and have a coffee or some food and talk to each other and staff.
Sinclair said creating a sense of community is an important part of the Food Bank and it allows volunteers to offer support and sometimes connect people with other services in the community that might benefit them, such as counsellors, addiction services or mental health workers.
The organization wants to raise the warehouse ceiling by about three metres and install a walk-in cooler to store perishables. The renovation cost is estimated at $120,000.
Loaves and Fishes has $50,000 it has set aside for the project and hopes to get the remainder from this year’s budget and fundraising activities.The food bank is also seeking food donations.
Sinclair said members of the organization appreciate the continued support of the community.
“More than 90 per cent of our budget comes from the people of Nanaimo and speaks to their generosity,” said Sinclair. “We are thankful to the community that makes this happen.”
For more information or to donate, please go to www.nanaimoloavesandfishes.org, call 250-754-8347 or drop by the main location at 1009 Farquhar St.