Mustard Seed receptionist Jessica Woods is smiling from ear to ear as she describes her remodeled reception area at the Queens Avenue facility.
The new counters are better suited for her height, she says, and the large, sliding glass service window that replaced a tiny one with bars on it allows community members who need help to do so in a more dignified way.
The changes are among the structural improvements completed in the recent HeroWork extreme makeover of the food bank, drop-in centre and chapel.
The major rejuvenation of the busy social service provider’s main floor in late May and early June, combined with a pair of major food drives, has helped Mustard Seed kick off the summer on a bright note.
“(HeroWork’s) Convoy of Awesome was successful in two ways,” Jackie Cox-Ziegler, director of administration, said of the June 1 food drive. “The (Mustard Seed’s five-ton) truck was over-full. They had to use two trucks (belonging to) donors to hold the rest. (And) I was overwhelmed by how many businesses and people and groups got together and got behind the Mustard Seed.”
Between 80 and 100 businesses and hundreds of volunteers were part of the week-long makeover project, the end-of-week food drive, or both. Combined with the Greater Victoria Postie Food Drive that happened the previous week, nearly 15,000 kilograms of food was collected.
As Cox-Ziegler pointed out, however, that amount covers only about three weeks’ supply for the food bank.
“In June, July and August the demand for food from families rises,” she said. “Children who would normally get (meal) support from schools do not get that support in summertime, and there’s usually less food donations. It’s really important that the donations continue.”
While the renovation has helped give a more positive outlook for staff and the community members who use the Mustard Seed’s services, Cox-Ziegler said, the need for those services never stops.
As local produce begins to be harvested, the food bank includes fresh food in the hampers, she said, adding that Mustard Seed gratefully received 360 kilograms of strawberries recently from Oldfield Orchards in Saanich.
Donations of fresh produce and non-perishable foods, as well as cash donations and new or gently used clothing, can be dropped off Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 625 Queens Ave. Visit mustardseed.ca or call 250-953-1575 for more information about ways to give or Mustard Seed programs.