KELOWNA - After searching for the past three years for a larger space, the Central Okanagan Food Bank finally has a new building they can call home.
The new 15,000 square foot building, located at 2310 Enterprise Way will provide the food bank with more adequate space to receive, process and store food items.
“This new building gives us the opportunity to do food banking differently,” said Lenetta Parry, the executive director of the Central Okanagan Food Bank. “We want to deliver a grocery style experience for our clients.”
Five thousand square feet larger than the current location at 1265 Ellis St., the new building has two large loading docks, 18- and 24-foot ceilings - compared to the previous 13-foot ceiling, and 23 parking stalls, allowing for greater, more efficient flow, according to Parry.
The Central Okanagan Food Bank purchased the building in April, 2017 for $3.45 million. Combining $1.2 million set aside in restricted funds, and the funds they will obtain from the sale of their current location, the Food Bank has enough money to purchase the building.
“When we ran the numbers, the purchase and timing of this building just made sense,” said Kevin Smith, treasurer of the Central Okanagan Food Bank in a press release. “We had the money restricted, the building was available for purchase, the building met all our operating needs and we were spending $4,000 to $8,000 per month on additional warehouse space.”
The new space will help to reduce stigma surrounding food banks, says Central Okanagan Food Bank president, Helen Holton.
“By creating a grocery-store like environment we hope to improve our clients sense of self worth,” she said. “We don’t want kids standing and waiting in line for food, or for seniors who don’t have a pension or adults that are sick and cannot work - we don’t want them feeling bad for coming here, we want to raise their spirits.”
However, there is no set opening date for the new location. According to Parry, they are aiming for Sept. 2017, but further comments alluded this may not be likely.
The Central Okanagan Food Bank was established in July 2015 when the Kelowna and Westside Community Food Bank’s came together. The Kelowna branch has run out of the Ellis Street location since 2006, according to David Purdon, chief of operations.
Between the two cities, the food bank serves up to 4,000 people per month, annually distributing $3.5 million in food. Thirty-three per cent of food bank goers are under the age of 15, while seniors make up 12 per cent.
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