Rotary helps Food Bank find new home

The Lake Country Food Bank is looking for a new home with the help of the local Rotary Club.

The Lake Country Food Bank is looking for a new home.

Presently, the Lake Country Food Assistance Society operates the food bank out of a location that is part of the old Winfield School—which also houses the Boys and Girls Club.

The cramped quarters are remarkable in that the dedicated volunteers are able to do so much good work in such a tiny space.

Recognizing the need, the Rotary Club has been assisting the food bank by exploring options for a new location for the past few years. The next step is a feasibility study to be undertaken collaboratively by the District of Lake Country, Rotary Club of Lake Country and the Lake Country Food Assistance Society, to consider options for a new food bank facility.

A possible new location has been found, next door to the recreation complex and senior’s centre on Bottom Wood Lake Road.

The de-commissioned septic field property on the east side of the senior’s centre is under consideration. The site hasn’t been approved yet and the district is seeking input directly from the Senior’s Centre and also the public.

“Council gave permission to look at this location and we are looking at many factors,” said Steve Shaffrick, director of community and customer services for the district.

Volunteers from the Rotary Club have been considering locations for three years. Bob Rymarchuk, Rotary project organizer for New Home for the Food Bank, said the group has high hopes for the possibilities inherent at the Bottom Wood Lake Road location. “This option only became apparent this year and it fits like a glove for the provided criteria.”

The food bank would have hours of operation that don’t compete with other users of the nearby parking lots. The existence of parking lots, on-site services and its central location are important. Functional criteria for the building include accessibility for clients and staff, storage space, food hamper assembly

space and a walk-in cooler.

Other features

required include:

• vehicle access to a warehouse

• accessible client reception waiting area and interview room

• fresh produce counter with client access

• accessible washrooms

• food hamper assembly area (no client access)

• food product sorting area in warehouse

• walk-in cold storage space

• staff kitchen including stove, fridge, microwave, sink, dishwasher and storage space

• administration office.

The only drawback to the location being considered is that there is no current direct bus stop nearby.

The Rotary Club is spearheading the drive to raise funds to build the facility. The club has partnered with the District of Lake Country to engage architect Bruce Carscadden to develop preliminary options based on the criteria provided and feedback from stakeholders.

“Partnering to better serve the needs of Lake Country residents that access the local food bank is an idea that has been raised at the Council table for some time,” Schaffrick said. “Once feedback from stakeholders is received on the concept, a preferred option will be presented to council for a decision on how best to proceed.”

Rymarchuk said whatever location is found for the food bank, “It needs to be a long-term solution. Food banks aren’t a phenomenon that is going away.”

The Lake Country Food Bank operates on a slightly different model than other food banks in the region in terms of fundraising and service delivery. It is a model that has garnered wide spread support in the community.

Rymarchuk said that support is vital to ensure the future success of the organization. “Having the municipality involved is huge,” he said. “We feel it is important to keep the food bank local and have people support it.”

A public information session displaying the concepts involved will be held 5:30 p.m. Thursday, May 24 at the Municipal Hall, 10150 Bottom Wood Lake Road.

With files from Richard Rolke, a Black Press staff reporter with the Vernon Morning Star.