Nanaimo’s food bank has received a multimillion-dollar grant to assist with construction of its new warehouse facility.
Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank will receive $7 million from the provincial government, B.C. Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction Sheila Malcolmson announced at a press conference Thursday, May 18.
The 24,000-square-foot warehouse and accompanying three-storey office building is planned for a site on East Wellington Road. In addition to reception and food storage areas, plans include a place for recyclable bottles to be sorted as part of the food bank’s Empties 4 Food program.
Peter Sinclair, Loaves and Fishes’ executive director, said it was “a monumental day for the community” as more and more people seem to need the food bank’s services.
“When we look at a particular month compared to the same month last year, we are seeing increases between 40 and 50 per cent,” said Sinclair. “That is a significant burden and challenge for us, but we are committed to doing everything we can to maximize the food that we are able to provide when people come.”
He said the non-profit hopes to receive a building permit within the next year and break ground by next summer. An additional $5 million is sought for construction and Sinclair said the group plans to reach out to the federal government. The total cost of the project is estimated at $11.5 million, he said, and the charity is mindful of current economic conditions.
“We’ve tried to be very prudent in our budgeting here in light of inflation and other financial challenges,” said Sinclair.
Malcolmson said money is going to the sort of project that aligns with the government’s strategy to reduce poverty. She said the $7 million comes from a $200-million food security announcement that Premier David Eby made with ministers earlier this year.
“We want everybody to have access to the fresh, nutritious food that they need to have healthy families to have food in their bellies to be able to go to school and go to work and be healthy,” said Malcolmson. “That has been challenged, absolutely, by the intensely increased cost of food due to global inflation.”
Loaves and Fishes not only services the Nanaimo area, but areas across the Island as well.
The City of Nanaimo and Loaves and Fishes partnered on a 30-year lease agreement last year.