Orangeville Food Bank opens bigger, better facility in town

July 24, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Baker

The Orangeville Food Bank has officially moved into its new, permanent home on Commerce Road. 

The site opened on Monday, with a special ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Dufferin-Caledon MPP Sylvia Jones, and Food Bank staff and volunteers. 

The new 7,200 sq. ft. facility is double the size of the unit the Food Bank previously rented on Centennial Road, which is welcome news to Savanaha O’Reilly, Food Manager at the local facility. 

“We officially took possession of the building in April and have been working hard on renovations over the past couple of months,” Ms. O’Reilly excitedly told the Citizen this week. “It is fantastic. We have a lot more space now – it’s wonderful. This is going to allow us to really expand on what we do.”

The big change, Ms. O’Reilly says, is to the Food Bank’s storage areas. By moving to the new facility, the Food Bank has been able to double its refrigeration space, which will allow the organization to accept more donations from the community. 

“Both our cooler and freezer space has been hugely enhanced. That’s a pretty big deal. Before, we were working out of a 10×10 unit, now we’re working out of a 10×20 unit and we’re just able to hold so much more for our clients, which is amazing,” Ms. O’Reilly said. “We’re able to give them some extra proteins, extra produce. We’re also able to take in more donations from the community that we weren’t able to do before.”

She added, “Now, if somebody calls me up and says they have a skid of oranges, I’ll have enough room to store it, whereas before that wasn’t always the case.”

Heather Hayes, Executive Director of the Orangeville Food Bank, says the organization has been looking for a new home for many years. Now that they have secured one, staff and volunteers can start planning for future targets and projects. One of the things Ms. O’Reilly says she’d like to see is a garden developed on the Food Bank’s new plot of land. 

Also on the horizon, Food Bank staff have to start making meals and distributing them to the community, just as soon as they’re able to install a commercial kitchen at the site. 

For the time being, COVID-19 is still impacting the way the Orangeville Food Bank services the community. While usually clients are able to take advantage of the shopping model used at the facility, the coronavirus has forced the Food Bank to switch to a hamper model, with all clients provided with a prepared collection of food, rather than being afforded the opportunity to pick things out for themselves. 

The facility is currently running on reduced hours. Clients can visit the new site from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, with Wednesdays reserved for the evening, open from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. 

Last year, the Orangeville Food Bank served more than 8,000 people, dishing out hundreds of thousands of pounds of food. With a bigger and better space, Ms. O’Reilly is confident the local facility is in a good place to continue serving the local community. 

“For the clients, this is such a great thing. It’s a beautiful new space, a respectable place for them to come in and feel comfortable. It’s a very dignified place to receive food,” Ms. O’Reilly said. “We’re also completely accessible now, with accessible bathrooms, which is a big plus. We also have a vestibule at the front of the building where people can stand if it’s bad weather. At the old facility, people had to wait out in the snow and rain to wait for their food.”

She concluded, “We tried to add as many little touches as possible, thinking about the whole process and how everything we do here is centred around our clients. We have to make it all work for them, and make things better for them in the long run.”

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