Life at Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank’s Farquhar Street main office could be described as chaotic these days.
The food bank is eagerly awaiting the completion of renovations to a warehouse on the property so work can not only get back to normal, but improve significantly.
“While the work is being done on the warehouse, all the donated food that was in it is now being stored, bagged and distributed in our office,” said Peter Sinclair, executive director. “When we need to work in one room, we move everything to another room. If we need to get in that room, we move it all to another. It’s organized chaos right now.”
But Sinclair doesn’t mind the inconvenience, as the new warehouse is going to streamline the operation and enable Loaves and Fishes to provide even more help to the community.
Renovations began in early August and are expected to be completed in October.
And thanks to the generosity of the business community – donations include lumber and trusses, windows, concrete and finishing, contracting, waste disposal, surveying and legal fees –Loaves and Fishes has only dipped slightly into the project’s $120,000 budget for labour costs.
“It is truly a community project,” he said. “It’s encouraging to know the community is behind us and wants us to succeed.”
“Any money we save will go to removing the concrete sidewalk around the office, fixing drainage and repaving,” said Sinclair. “We would also like to plant a community garden and create a meeting place in the office for people to grab a coffee and talk.”
The original warehouse was more than 100 years old and was originally Nanaimo’s provincial mine rescue station.
“The roof started to leak and it wasn’t providing the protection or functionality we needed,” said Sinclair. “Officially it’s a renovation. It’s the same 640-square-foot footprint, but it’s pretty much a new building.”
The new warehouse will have a 15-foot ceiling – up from eight feet – which will enable staff to place food on pallets and stack them on metal racks using a forklift.
It will also have a walk-in cooler, enabling the operation to make better use of donated fresh produce and dairy.
“Nanaimo Cold Storage donates space to us, but now we won’t have to waste fuel making runs every day,” said Sinclair.
The warehouse will also become the distribution point for Loaves and Fishes satellite locations at 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, St. Philip’s Anglican Church in Cedar and the newest location at the Neighbourhood Church on Rutherford Road.
All food arrives at the Farquhar Street warehouse and then get distributed to the depots.
“The new warehouse will allow us to redeploy staff to different areas and better utilize incoming food donations,” Sinclair said. “It allows us to capture the generosity of the community.”
The additional space could not come at a better time, as the need to help Nanaimo’s hungry continues.
In August, Loaves and Fishes filled 3,799 single food hampers and 1,149 family food hampers.
For more information on Loaves and Fishes, please go to www.nanaimoloavesandfishes.org or call 250-754-8347.
Loaves and Fishes food bank locations and times
10:30 a.m. to noon – St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 394 Shepherd Ave.
2-3 p.m. – St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, 4235 Departure Bay Rd.
2-3 p.m. – Christ Community Church, 221 Bowen Rd.
5-7 p.m. – Loaves and Fishes Food Bank, 1009 Farquhar St.
1-3 p.m – Brechin United Church, 1998 Estevan Rd.
10 a.m. to noon – Loaves and Fishes Food Bank, 1009 Farquhar St.
2-3 p.m. – St. Philip’s Anglican Church, 1797 Cedar Rd.
1-3 p.m. – Loaves and Fishes Food Bank, 1009 Farquhar St.
New location – day and time to be determined
Neighbourhood Church, 4951 Rutherford Rd.