Construction underway on new Cranbrook Food Bank facility

The 6,300 square foot facility will also house the Cranbrook Food Recovery Program and Farm Kitchen

Construction has begun on a new facility for the Cranbrook Food Bank. (Submitted file)

A new building is now under construction for the Cranbrook Food Bank after years of searching for the right location.

The new facility will be located at 1624 Industrial Road 2 and will be 6,300 square feet, says the Cranbrook Food Bank Society. The new building allows for storage and distribution of food at one location, rather than two like they are currently operating.

Columbia Basin Trust provided $300,000 towards the building and equipment, while New Dawn Developments have been awarded the construction.

The Food Bank is a vital part of the Cranbrook community, giving out food hampers three times per week to about 450 households (800 people) on average. This equates to about 10,000 individual client visits every year.

The Food Bank currently uses one building to store food and another, two kilometres away, to distribute it, the Society said in a press release. Having one location will allow for much less transport and give volunteers and operators more time.

“The pandemic has worsened this disconnect between locations: demand for food and donations have gone up and regulations have made operations more complex,” said the Cranbrook Food Bank Society. “For example, to serve everyone while complying with physical distancing requirements, food hamper preparation requires volunteer shifts to be spread over six days instead of four.”

READ MORE: Cranbrook food recovery programs still in operation

Board Member Brian Smith has worked tirelessly for the past two years to help make their vision of having a new building become a reality.

“Our new facility design means adequate space for perishable and non-perishable food receiving, preparation and storage, cleaning, packing, and distribution of food hampers. It means safe and more efficient operations for our volunteers and clients,” he said.

Construction is expected to be completed next year, with the move-in-date expected for late February of 2021. The building where the Food Bank currently distributes from has been sold and the warehouse where food is kept is in the process of being sold as well.

With the new facility, the Food Bank Society will be able to house two additional programs including the Cranbrook Food Recovery Program and the Farm Kitchen, which are both run by the Community Connections Society of Southeast BC.

“It just makes sense to share a building, equipment and resources with other programs who share our vision of recovering and distributing good quality food to those who need it,” explained Deanna Kemperman, Food Bank Coordinator.

READ MORE: Cranbrook Food Recovery Program celebrates success of food diversion

She adds that the new location is on a bus route and is in a fairly central location, allowing anyone who picks up their hampers to do so easily.

“We searched hard for over two years to find an affordable, central location,” Kemperman said. “Interestingly, only 20 per cent of our clients currently walk to pick up their hampers, the others find rides. The new Food Bank is directly on a bus route, and we are including clients in discussions about possible delivery/pickup station options so that everyone who needs a hamper can get one. We’ll make this work.”

Deborah Russon is the President of the Board of the Food Bank Society. She thanks all of the volunteers and those involved in the new building for their support.

“This building simply would not be possible without the generous donation and consulting support of Columbia Basin Trust, who are a tremendous resource to our region. We have found their staff to be professional, knowledgeable, and simply a pleasure to work with,” she said, adding that the builders and other stakeholders deserve to be recognized, too.

“Our builders, New Dawn Development, have been outstanding as well. Their community-minded culture and Chad Jensen’s willingness to share expertise and resources right from day one have been invaluable,” said Russon. “We are indebted to BCGEU for their generous 2018 donation of our current Food Bank distribution building, which made it possible to begin dreaming of a consolidated warehouse/distribution facility. We’d also like to extend sincere thanks for the continued interest and support of the East Kootenay Credit Union and City of Cranbrook.”

Last but not least, Russon thanked the Cranbrook community for their support over the years as well.

“We are thankful for and humbled by the continuous support we receive from our community. They understand that working together works. Thank you to individuals, to businesses, churches, service organizations, to our clients, and to other non-profits sharing the load. Your patience and support have been phenomenal.”

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Construction has begun on a new facility for the Cranbrook Food Bank. Pictured is the current (old) facility where food has been distributed from for many years. (Submitted file)

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