Essex Area Food Bank settling into new facility

by Sylene Argent

Leading up to and during the holiday season, volunteers with the Essex Area Food Bank were busy moving its food items and equipment from its previous home at the former Sun Parlour Junior Public School facility, to its new location, in the basement of Essex United Church.

  The need for the move was because the Essex Area Food Bank’s lease was to expire with the Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB) at the end of 2019.

  The move to the new location ended an around 25-year partnership between the local food bank and the GECDSB. In that time, the Essex Area Food Bank has operated in and around Essex District High School.

  “It was an emergency situation to try and get there [at Essex United Church], but it is up and running,” Food Bank Board of Directors member, Gerry Belanger said. He added all of the Food Bank’s volunteers are grateful to Essex United Church for giving up a large portion of its basement so the food distribution service could continue to serve its many clients.

  “The structure of the new setup is working well,” Belanger said. “But, the space is smaller than we had before. We are grateful to Essex United Church for allowing us in here.”

  He noted that the Food Bank is short a few fridges and freezers because of the smaller space available, but the volunteers are grateful for the new partnership and have have special arrangements with suppliers to pick up food items twice a week instead of once to ensure food items are still available for its clients.

  Down the road, the Food Bank may need to keep an eye out for a larger space on ground level, but, in the present, the Food Bank is currently quite happy with its new partnership with Essex United Church.

  “The Church as been wonderful to us,” Fellow Essex Area Food Bank Board of Directors member, Lonnie Jones, said. “It is a very suitable, wonderful facility.”

  Jones added the Food Bank’s freezers and shelves are currently full as a few distribution dates were missed during the move. During that time, clients were directed to other services. And, because there were many generous food and financial donations that were forwarded around the holiday season.“We were very proud,” Jones said of the donations the Food Bank collected.

  The Essex Area Food Bank is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 8:30 am until 1 pm. Volunteers typically serve around 50 clients per day of operation, with each client representing an average of three individuals served when considering family members.

  Last year, Belanger added, the Essex Area Food Bank was able to serve 11,382 meals. It is expected the same amount of meals will be served this year, too.

Jones and Belanger are grateful to all the schools that host fundraisers for the Food Bank, which helps keep the shelves stocked for area families in need.