New year to bring new downtown home for YK Food Bank

The long, cold trek to the YK Food Bank – which moved to a warehouse in Kam Lake last June – is about to end.

President Brad Carlson said a new downtown distribution centre could be operating as early as next month. Carlson won’t say where people will be able to pick up their food baskets until he has finalized the paperwork, but he’s close to sealing the deal.

“We have got another organization downtown willing to let us distribute food from their facility, and there’s no fee,” he said Wednesday.

The YK Food Bank will keep its large warehouse depot for food storage and food basket assembly, but then drive the baskets downtown for distribution every other Saturday.

The food bank has been operating from Unit 1, #6 Coronation Drive (see map below) in the city’s industrial area since moving from the basement of Overlander Sports after 11 rent-free years.

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Carlson said Overlander owners Bill and Sandra Stirling did not ask them to leave, but it was clear their business needed the space for expansion, and the food bank also needed more room, as well as a location without stairs.

Since moving to Kam Lake, Carlson said use of the food bank has dropped about 35 per cent because people cannot find transport to the city’s southern reaches. There are no buses, and most clients do not own vehicles.

Kam Lake move based on rent

The decision to move to the industrial complex was based on rental fees.

“The cheapest downtown location we could find was $2,500 a month, and that was rent only, whereas now we pay $18,000 for the year including utilities,” said Carlson, which works out to about $1,500/month.

Entirely volunteer run, the organization has paid its rent through cash donations and plans to do some fundraising in the new year.

Between July 5 and Sept. 13 of this year, 186 people attended the food bank, in order to feed 424 adults and 415 children. In recent years, food bank need peaked in 2010-11 at 2,836 bags of food, compared to 1,938 bags in 2011-12, and 2,279 bags in 2012-13.

“Our clients are often on income support and are working poor,” said Carlson. “We all know that with minimum wage at $10/hour, it’s impossible to house yourself and eat on that kind of money.”

While historically the food bank has provided only non-perishable food items, Carlson says the new warehouse has large freezers that can accommodate meats, fish and poultry, and there are plans to try to make fresh fruits and vegetables available to clients next year.

The next food bank will be at the Kam Lake warehouse this Saturday, Dec. 20 from 9:30 a.m.-12:20 p.m.

Anyone wishing to make donations or to volunteer can leave a message at 873-4035, or through the organization’s Facebook page.

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