The Kamloops Food Bank is celebrating the opening of a new food distribution and storage warehouse, located across from its main building on Wilson Street on the North Shore.
The occasion was marked at a May 12 event, with a number of speakers, sponsors and community members gathering.
“This building is truly a physical manifestation of compassion in this community,” said food bank executive director Bernadette Siracky, noting she has never seen anything like the demand during the past two years.
“I think as a staff, we all know that those folks in our lineup, their struggles just mirror our own. COVID taught us so many lessons and one big one was that it really could be you there,” she said.
Food bank staff from other regions were also at the event. Their interest in the new warehouse is that it furthers the Kamloops Food Bank’s place as a regional food hub.
Siracky said the need for the building isn’t just driven by demand in Kamloops, but in the entire region.
“Lillooet does not have storage for 10 palettes of anything, but they can sure come get a palette at a time and we save it for them,” she said.
Siracky said the food bank serves 6,000 people, nine smaller food banks in the region, 45 meal-making agencies in Kamloops and six farmers, the latter who use expired food to as animal feed.
Food bank board president Lisa Lake acknowledged the project’s many donors and partners, including 16 title donors and 21 construction partners.
She said through the donations and grant funding, the project was undertaken without debt.
Each speaker also took the time to thank food bank staff and volunteers.
“This is an essential service and we could not shut the doors for even one day — and we didn’t shut the doors for even one day,” Lake said.
One of those workers is Gabrielle Bray, whose first visit to the food bank was not as a volunteer, but as a client.
She later started volunteering at the food bank a way to help herself out of depression.
“I kind of figured in my head, that to help myself, I could help others,” she said.
Bray said she fell in love with everyone at the food bank and was eventually offered a paid position that led to full-time work. That was nearly eight years ago.
She said her past experience has helped her connect with those she is serving.
“I can see myself in the face of the clients,” Bray said. “I was there.”
• The Kamloops Food Bank always welcomes donations. Its contact number is 250-376-2252.