Essex Area Food Bank moving into Schinkels’ 68 Talbot St. North facility

by Sylene Argent

Due to good timing, the Essex Area Food Bank will be able to move into Schinkels’ Meat Market’s 68 Talbot Street North facility in the coming months, once it has been vacated from its current operation.

  Since 2014, the Essex Area Food Bank has operated out of the former Sun Parlour Junior Public School facility, and has spent the past 25-years operating out of Essex District High School in some capacity.

  The latest lease contract, however, is set to expire in December and Lonnie Jones and Gerry Belanger, volunteers on the Essex Area Food Bank Board of Directors, said the Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB) had made it known it wished to sell the facility.

  “We’ve been blessed to be in this building for long as we have,” Jones said, who added the GECDSB’s desire to sell the building is understandable. “Without the School Board’s help, we would not have grown.”

  With Schinkels’ working on renovating the former Essex Party & Discount facility for its own operation to move into, its current facility would be available and has the electrical, air conditioning, and cooling systems the Food Bank would need to continue to offer its service to those in the community in need. These opportunities made the Schinkels’ location stand out amongst other opportunities considered.

  Recently, Belanger said, the Food Bank’s Board of Directors reached out to Schinkels’ about possibly leasing the 68 Talbot Street North facility, and its Board approved the move. In the next little while, the Essex Area Food Bank will let its generous sponsors know about the transition.

  Though it is not known exactly when the move will take place, Jones and Belanger said the Food Bank will be closed for a week or so to make the move into its new location. They also expect there to be a cost associated in moving. Until that time, the Food Bank will continue to serve its clients from the current location.

  Once situated in its new home, the Food Bank will re-open, but likely with a new structure. It is planned to operate from the back of the facility as this will give clients assess to a parking lot where they can more easily use grocery carts to load up goods into their vehicles. The new facility is smaller than the current one, however, the walk-in freezers will allow the Food Bank to save space as it currently uses several large freezers.  

  “It is a pretty good location for us,” Jones said.

  The Essex Area Food Bank decided to keep its operation in town, as it spends round $10,000 a month at Essex Centre stores.

  “As most of our food purchases and supplies are from stores in Essex Centre, we deemed it wise to relocate in this town,” Jones said. “We will need the continued support of our volunteers and sponsors as we strive to feed the needy in our communities.”

  They said the Food Bank has had solid support from Essex and surrounding area residents, which is appreciated.

  Currently, the Essex Area Food Bank is serving around 300 individuals per week, of which 40 percent are youth, Jones noted. It is open to its clients on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

  The local food distribution service will continue to collect donations through the transition.