Jaye Murray

Food bank’s new site ‘cleaner, safer’

Donations still sought for much-needed renovations.

There are many things about Sources’ new food bank location that manager Jaye Murray can’t help but be excited about.

For one thing, it’s a bright and welcoming environment, with cheery yellow walls and warm, dark flooring – a far cry from the somewhat dingy digs the facility occupied up until two months ago.

But more importantly, it offers those who frequented that former site, located just around the corner on 24 Avenue, something that was hard to come by there: privacy.

“Now we can bring the client in, sit down, close the door and find out why they need to come,” Murray said of an enclosed office for registering clients, during a recent tour of the 2343 156 St. facility.

In addition to the quiet of the registration office, a layout that situates the distribution centre of the operation at the back of the building means clients also no longer have to line up in plain view for food hampers they likely never expected to need.

“It’s hard enough to come to a food bank,” Murray said. “You want to feel respected and comfortable.”

Sources’ White Rock/South Surrey Food Bank opened at the new site on July 1, three months after the organization took possession.

In addition to giving the program cleaner, safer space, acquiring the new site – which is owned by Sources – removed the uncertainty that comes with being at the mercy of a landlord.

A capital campaign to raise funds for the property’s purchase and facility renovations is ongoing. Up-to-date statistics on the effort were not available, however, officials have a new suggestion for those wanting to help.

Dubbed Brunch for the Bank, it encourages individuals to gather friends, co-workers and neighbours for a by-donation brunch, with all proceeds going to support the cause.

To get involved, contact Natasha at 604-836-1346 or email nraey@sourcesbc.ca

Murray couldn’t say enough about how appreciated the funds that have been received to date are.

For example, money donated by Vancity last month ($8,000) enabled the purchase of sturdy, easy-to-clean shelving.

“In our other location, we had to make do with a lot of things, which is not always clean, not always safe,” Murray said. “This is just fantastic.”

She is hopeful that financial targets needed to facilitate the addition of a second floor in the building’s central bay, as well as an elevator, will soon be reached. The second floor is not only critical to connecting all of the different areas of the operation, it is key to having a walk-in cooler installed – a missing piece that has made it impossible to store fresh food.

“Without a cooler we’ve been frantic, because we can’t keep anything,” Murray said.

Without the second floor, substantial donations of non-perishables that are expected during October’s annual Halloween for Hunger food drive will present even further challenge. At the moment, non-perishables are being stored “everywhere.”

“I don’t know what we’ll do,” Murray said. “We’re packed with our regular stuff now.

“Everything sort of hinges on that second floor and the elevator.”

Murray said the elevator will also ease in moving stock and improve safety for the food bank’s volunteers, the majority of whom are seniors who currently have to navigate steep sets of stairs.

“There’s some big renovations to make the system work properly and they’re not done. Once it’s finished, it’ll be wonderful, it really will.”

Other efforts underway include creation of a community garden on idle land behind the B.C. Ambulance Service building that neighbours the new food bank site.

The plan, Murray said, is to build 16 plots, with half for the sole use of growing produce for the food bank. The remaining plots would be available to community residents, on the condition that 10 per cent of what is grown in them be donated to the food bank. A construction day is planned for this Friday (Sept. 13).

For more information on that initiative, email deirdre@teamplayconsulting.com, semiahmoofoodnetwork@gmail.com or call 778-891-8948.

Donations to the food bank capital campaign – along with food donations – may be dropped off at the 2343 156 St. site between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday to Friday. For more information, call 604-531-8168 or 604-531-6226.

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