Dignitaries toss dirt around at the start of construction of the Lake Country Food Bank building

Dignitaries toss dirt around at the start of construction of the Lake Country Food Bank building

Construction officially underway at new home of Lake Country Food Bank

With the official start to construction taken care of, long-awaited food bank building project moving forward after years of planning

Five years after a campaign to build a new food bank building in Lake Country began, shovels hit the dirt next to the Winfield Senior’s Centre on Wednesday to kick off construction of a brand new food bank building in Lake Country.

Fundraising and planning for the stand-alone building—expected to be complete and serving clients by this Christmas—was undertaken by the Lake Country Rotary Club which has raised close to $300,000 in cash donations to go along with another $200,000 of in-kind donations while the land was donated by the District of Lake Country and valued at $275,000.

When complete it will be the first time the food bank will have its own building in Lake Country, something that nearly brought manager Phyllis McPherson to tears.

“Look where we have come,” said McPherson, who has been running the food bank for some 25 years. “We have come from nothing. We started off with nothing and a lot of you will remember where we came from. I love each and every one of you. I’m proud of you and for the help you gave me all these years.”

Key to the ability to get construction underway this year was a $100,000 grant from the Aviva Canada fund, thanks to an online contest that garnered 11,000 votes for the new home for the Lake Country Food Bank. But the community has stepped up as well and now that construction has begun, organizers say in-kind donations and more cash donations are coming in.

The project was hatched by the Rotary Club, a small volunteer club with about 25 members and the building will be turned over the District of Lake Country and will be owned by the municipality when complete.

“Our club was inspired by the volunteers at the food bank,” said Bob Rymarchuk of the Rotary Club. “We understood the problems at the present facility and we realized about four or five years ago that we needed to give them some support and get them into something that would make it easier to operate. We’re very proud to be standing here and able to start the work on the facility. Our goal at this point is to have the food bank in the building and working for the Christmas season which would be absolutely phenomenal.”

While there is still fundraising work to do to make sure the building can be complete—the Rotary Club says between $100,000 and $200,000 is still needed—the project is moving forward with help from Okanagan College trades students who will take the project from start of construction to lock up as part of their residential construction program.

“We’ve done about 50 projects in the program from spec homes to social housing and women’s shelters,” said Jim Hamilton of Okanagan College. “Whenever we get the opportunity to do something that falls into the category of true community service that just makes it that much more of a valuable learning experience.”