The Greenwood Food Bank urgently needs a bigger headquarters, city council heard May 25.
The food bank at 101 Government St. has been operating for the past few years out of a small office attached to the city auction house. Owner Bob Bugeaud said the food bank is welcome to stay there, rent-free, as long as volunteers need the space.
But the roughly 30-square metre office (100 square feet) can’t accommodate the food bank’s growing needs. Lead volunteer Karen Lehmann said the food bank now serves around 25 families twice per month. Some families have eight or nine people, while many clients are single mothers and seniors.
“We are just exploding and we need more room,” she explained.
The food bank’s office can fit perhaps three people, which would be cramped at the best of times.
“But with COVID, people need to be six feet apart, and it’s impossible to have two people in at a time,” Lehmann added.
The office is currently stocked with a deep freezer, which Lehmann said is very helpful, but it’s too small to fit a refrigerator for food items that can’t be frozen.
Volunteers had put out milk, fruits and veggies and canned food on a folding table outside the building when the Times popped in for a visit Thursday, June 3. Clients typically have to wait — sometimes up to half an hour — before they can access food on the shelves inside.
“How can we do that in the winter, when it’s 20 below outside?” Lehmann asked.
Mayor Barry Noll on Friday said that he and city council are working to find a better fit for the food bank.
“One place that comes to mind is the city’s old curling rink,” he said, adding, “we’re trying to find more ways to help people in need here.”
Jill Laughren, now a longtime volunteer at the food bank, said she’d been a client when she fell on hard times.
“I literally had no money to shop for food for a whole year (in 2016). Everything I ate came from the food bank, so I was grateful for the opportunity to volunteer here,” she said.
Lehman said food donations come from Greenwood’s Deadwood Junction and Copper Eagle cafés and from Greenwood Grocers (formerly My Udder Store). Food also comes from the Boundary Community Food Bank, Save-on and Extra Foods in neighbouring Grand Forks and from the Food Hub in Kelowna.
Lehman added that the Greenwood branch of the Royal Canadian Legion (Branch 155) “gives us money every year,” adding that the branch “is giving more now than they ever have before.”
A food bank volunteer who asked to remain anonymous further highlighted financial donations by the West Boundary Community Forest, the Heritage Credit Union and seniors’ centre in Greenwood, the Red Hat Ladies of Midway, The Bridge drop-in Centre and the motorcycle group, Castlegar Toy Run.
The volunteer asked to thank the countless number of ordinary residents whose regular donations keep the food bank going.
The food bank opens from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the first and third Thursdays of the month.
For more information, please call Karen Lehman at 250-449-2279.