It’s a rare occasion that the St. Albert Food Bank gives out plates of cake and cups of punch instead of peanut butter and other food staples, but it happened yesterday for two very good reasons.
The community organization is celebrating its 25th year of service on a high note with the grand opening of its new facility next to Canadian Tire. According to executive director, Suzan Krecsy, it’s a team effort that leaves her speechless.
“How can you put that into words?” she said. “The kind of support that we’re getting here is just fabulous.”
That support has come from every corner of the city from individuals and groups. During the ceremony, Krecsy received a few housewarming gifts in the form of cash donations. The St. Albert Cruisers Club presented a cheque for $1,450 raised during the recent Autorama event. That was followed by Mayor Nolan Crouse who hand-delivered congratulations from city council, along with a grant for $40,000.
Those funds will be used to continue renovations at the new facility and to help with daily operations. Although the organization moved from its previous 2,100-sq.-ft. facility to its new 9,000-sq.-ft. home, there is still a major upgrade under way.
The food bank already has walk-in freezer and fridge units to store perishable foods, along with rows of warehouse shelving. Once the ceremony finished, however, the volunteers were right back at work on constructing the community kitchen, office space, outreach counselling areas and a bathing unit.
According to Krecsy, St. Albert has homeless people who are actively looking for work but can’t pass their interviews without showering first. The counselling areas will be used for people escaping domestic violence. That kind of abuse, she said, is on the rise right along with the need for food.
All in all, the enhanced services are meant to do more for everyone, especially those who need the most help. The timeline for the project completion was not available by press time. For now, she’s just happy that the food bank is on the right track to preparing for a brighter future.
“Moving into (this place) is just heaven with a roof,” she said. “We’re absolutely thrilled to be here,” adding that the level of support from the community always amazes her but doesn’t surprise her any more.
When asked if that support means that the supply of donations is meeting the increased demand from the public, she said that it’s always a great challenge. There may never be enough.
“More donations, always.”
The annual food drive will be held on Sept. 19. This year’s goal is to raise 23,000 kilograms (50,000 pounds). Almost 91,000 kilograms (200,000) pounds of food was distributed to clients in 2008.
The St. Albert Food Bank is located at #30, 50 Bellerose Drive. Call 780-459-0599 or via email at [email protected] for more information about services or to help.