Food Bank moves into new home

Okotoks: New facility larger, more functional

By: Don Patterson

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Apr 23, 2014 02:18 pm

Joanna Busse loads hampers with Easter dinner supplies at the new location of the Okotoks Food Bank on Stockton Point.
Joanna Busse loads hampers with Easter dinner supplies at the new location of the Okotoks Food Bank on Stockton Point.
Jordan Verlage/OWW

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The Okotoks Food Bank’s new home has everything the organization has been looking for in the past couple years, more room for donations, more space to work and a better place to serve their clients.

The Okotoks Food Bank moved into its new home at Unit 7, 109 Stockton Point in the Okotoks business park on March 15.

After only a month in the new location, the food bank’s executive director has already seen a big difference in its operations.

“It’s all on one level, so it’s a much better use for our teams that are doing pick up, sorting, all of that,” said Karen Wilke. “We had a board meeting in here the other day; we have room to have meetings. Our clients can sit and have a coffee and a cookie while they’re waiting. It’s just a much nicer space.”

The food bank outgrew its former location in the United Church and had been looking for a new home. Wilke said they appreciate the support from the Church over the years, but they had simply outgrown their former home.

The new location is just over 1,500 square feet in size, 500 square feet larger than their former location, which was split over two floors. She said the new reception area gives their clients more privacy, while the building’s large bay doors make it easier to handle larger deliveries and food drives.

Cargill Foods donated a new walk-in freezer to the food bank, but there wasn’t anywhere to put it until now. The company also funded a workspace with stainless steel counters and a sink. The food bank has also been able to expand its bread and extras program that people can use as much as they need without having to register for a hamper.

The new location was made possible largely from support from the community.

Last year town council approved giving the food bank an interest free loan of $220,000 to go towards the purchase of its new site. The food bank will make annual payments of $45,000 to repay the loan.

The food bank also received some help from a former Okotoks mayor and a local business leader in their efforts to find a new home.

Former mayor Bill McAlpine and Western Wheel publisher Paul Rockley worked to help the food bank on a capital fundraising campaign to help secure a new location. McAlpine said he first contacted Rockley one evening about the idea and asked if he would help.

“It was so difficult for them there having the food down in the basement and only having this little work area up top,” he said. “I just thought it would be nice if they had a place of their own.”

After working with the food bank he said they have already been able to raise enough money to cover the first two years of payments for the loan from the Town.

Karla Lawson, food bank board president, said they are grateful for the assistance from McAlpine and Rockley, as well as all their other volunteers.

“It means we have a building, they’ve just been great partners coming along side us and pushing us through the transition,” she said.

Lawson said it will suit the food bank’s needs for a while.

“This is what we need, I think we’ll be able to function out of this building for a really long time,” she said.


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