By JAMES EIK
A new location for the Medical Lake Food Bank couldn't have come at a better time.
The food bank has seen demand for its services more than double since June 2009, when it provided food for 114 families. This past June, it served 245 and new clients are coming in double digits each month.
But, while the new building has helped with some areas, the food bank still faces difficulties.
“Just because we moved into a new location doesn't mean we're flush with cash,” food bank director Peg James said.
The food bank still relies on donations from community members throughout the year. While it receives some of its supply from the Second Harvest Food Bank in Spokane, the Care and Share also provides some much-needed funds.
Over the past few years, the thrift store has weathered an economic downturn and extra competition in the city to help fund the new food bank building.
“We could not have done this without Anne Starr and the Care and Share,” James said.
For the last several years, a building fund has been growing for the sole purpose of finding a new location. But a new building comes with additional costs.
While sharing the same building as the Care and Share for many years, a separate building will command higher energy and garbage bills.
The new location at 312 N. Grace St. provides a larger space to help families and also nearly doubles the square footage of the food bank. Also, compared to the old location at the Dora Burt Center, the flow of traffic is much easier to manage.
Before last month, families would enter and leave through the same door. James said the difficulty was comparable to a fish swimming upstream. Since the first week in the Grace Street location, the difference has been immeasurable.
“For so long it was like a pipe dream,” James said. “But then it became a necessity.”
Having one facility house the Care and Share and food bank became too burdensome. Care and Share volunteers were having to move heavy bags of unsorted donations back and forth during the week, whenever the food bank wasn't in operation. Likewise, the food bank's growing services put a heavy strain on the building.
“We had to arrange everything with what they were doing and vice versa,” James said.
Once the time came to finally move, things seemed to work smoothly.
Over the span of a week, items were moved and shelves were built. The food bank's volunteers worked speedily to get food ready to go.
“That Friday, in two hours we had everything in boxes and ready to move out,” James said.
In the initial development phase, one proposal was to purchase the former Ball and Dodd funeral home on the corner of SR 902 and Lefevre Street. The building, currently used by the area's SCOPE office, was deemed too cost-ineffective, requiring extensive remodeling.
James is quick to point out that the successful transition wouldn't have been possible without a dedicated group of volunteers. Without their help throughout many years, such a large undertaking might never have happened.
“I brag about this team all the time,” she said.
James Eik can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org