Food bank finally finds a new home

The search is over for the Lake Cowichan Food Bank Society, which has found a new home after more than three years of uncertainty.

The Lake Cowichan Food Bank Society has signed a lease on a new space at 205 South Shore Road and will move in by the end February. Food bank volunteers Cindy Vaast

The Lake Cowichan Food Bank Society has signed a lease on a new space at 205 South Shore Road and will move in by the end February. Food bank volunteers Cindy Vaast

The search is over for the Lake Cowichan Food Bank Society, which has found a new home after more than three years of uncertainty.

On Friday, the society’s executive members signed a one-year lease in the same building as Gerard’s Specialty Foods at 205 South Shore Rd. While the space requires some minor upgrades before the food bank can move in by the end of February, its volunteers are thrilled to finally know where they will be basing their operations.

“We approached just about everybody in town and nobody wanted the food bank,” said Betty Sanddar, the food bank society’s chairperson. “If you drive through town you’ll see there are lots of empty places and we approached everyone and no one was interested.”

According to Sanddar and her colleagues, the group kept hearing that the food bank just wasn’t “the right fit” for the spaces they were interested in. With time running out at the Mildred Child Annex, which is slated for eventual demolition, food bank volunteers were becoming increasingly anxious about their future.

That was when Gerard Burg, a property manager with Kajody Property Management, stepped in with a solution — an affordable price on a unit in the same building as his food shop.

“When he realized the plight that we were going through, through conversations we had had, he said, ‘I’m going to get you in there.’ He would move the mountain to get us in here,” said Kathy Worsley, the food bank society’s treasurer.

“Talking to Gerard and (his wife) Glenda…they were very willing and very concerned about our situation.”

Burg said they wanted to do something to help the volunteers already doing so much for the town.

“All around (we want) to help anybody else. And the people who need it especially,” he said. “That’s what we’re all about.”

The new space will be nearly twice as big as the food bank’s current location, and will have a washroom and more room for families coming to pick up items. The increased space — and a large awning that runs along the front of the building — will mean fewer people getting caught in the rain or cold on days when the lineup stretches out the building.

Cindy Vaast, the society’s volunteer coordinator and secretary, noted that during the group’s search for a new location, many community members found other ways to support the organization.

“They came out of the woodwork with donations. We had a lot of extra donations that we had not seen before,” she said.

In the past six months, the food bank has received over $5,000 in donations. Vaast, Sanddar and Worsley all expressed gratitude for the community’s contributions and hope that people will volunteer their time with future activities like hot dog sales at Country Grocer.

“And we’ll be looking for a lot of volunteers for the moving day,” added Worsely.