The Hantsport & Area Community Food Bank is still in need of a fixed address and a new co-ordinator to get up and running in the New Year.
Operations temporarily ceased at the food bank in mid-December after the building housing the support service was sold. Food bank volunteers distributed December orders and Christmas hampers to 52 clients early this season upon learning the former Just Us! warehouse on William Street in Hantsport was under new ownership.
Outgoing co-ordinator Shirley Bishop says the new owner has offered to allow the food bank to stay in the building if there is still sufficient room for operations to continue once renovations are complete.
“At this point we’re still open to another offer of accommodations because… she may find that she is going to require the main large room that we actually use for our storage,” Bishop said.
“We’re kind of resigned to the fact that we likely will be closed in January but we’re optimistic that something will transpire… so that that is only a temporary situation.”
Bishop says the food bank is still using the warehouse to store donations of food, but it would be too difficult to try to safely pack and distribute orders while renovations are underway.
While a long-term solution to the food bank’s housing dilemma would be ideal, Bishop, who announced her intent to retire Dec. 31 in October, says it is imperative a new co-ordinator is found soon.
“The bottom line is right now we do not have a co-ordinator as of yet. That is critical to us continuing and we would want that person, or persons, involved in decision making regarding where we do relocate.”
Bishop says the closure of the food bank comes at a time when she has noticed an increase in the need for the service.
“We did have our first family from the Minas Basin closure this past week and we don’t know just what to expect there.”
Food vouchers and emergency assistance is available through Feed Nova Scotia’s helpline (1-877-521-1188).
Hantsport Mayor Rob Zwicker says he’d like to see the food bank find a long-term solution to the ongoing housing dilemma so the hard-working volunteers can focus on their main object: to feed people in need.
“I think at the end of the day we really need to get a permanent home for the food bank.”
Zwicker says council has not been directly involved in solving the food bank’s plight to date, but he’d be interested in conversing with representatives of neighbouring municipalities to determine if land may be available outside of town for the food bank that also services Avonport, Hants Border, Bishopville and Mount Denson.
“It’d be fantastic to let them put up their own building,” he said in a phone interview Dec. 20.
The Town of Hantsport’s council has yet to formally discuss the issue, but Zwicker says it may be on the agenda once council reconvenes in 2013.
“Basically what we’re doing is we’re keeping apprised of the situation and we’ve offered any support that they need.”