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Food bank location woes continue
Volunteers work toward reviving downtown service

Evan Kiyoshi French
Northern News Services
Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Stephanie Matla and her nine-year-old daughter Carrie Doctor hitched a ride with a friend to the YK Food Bank in Kam Lake for distribution day on Saturday - a location she initially struggled with.

NNSL photo/graphic

Don Palosaari, left, Sandra Nielson, Janine Jenken, Joanne Teed, vice- president of the YK Food Bank, were at the location in the Kam Lake area Saturday morning for distribution day. - Evan Kiyoshi French/NNSL photo

"It took me a month-and-a-half to find out where it was," she said.

"Downtown was more convenient. That's all I can say about that."

Bev Catholique-Fatt took a cab to get there on Saturday and said even though she was able to figure out roughly where it was located she still missed it on her first attempt.

"Oh my goodness, we went way down and we didn't see it," she said, standing outside the food bank doors.

"It's so far. People usually walk there, but now they have to get a ride or take a cab. If they can't walk there they can't go. It's sad."

Catholique said she wishes the food bank would move back downtown so she wouldn't have to pay a cab fair to get food.

It is these kinds of difficulties, combined with a significant drop in users since the move, that has prompted the food bank to seek out a downtown location for distribution day - a deal board members had hoped to secure by Christmas.

Brad Carlson, the food bank's president, said he's still negotiating with an organization to bring the charity within range of downtown foot traffic, and may have an answer in a week.

"We're working on it. I should have something in the near future to report but not this very moment. I can't because I'm working with another organization and until we have an agreement in place with them I (can't say) anything," he said.

Carlson added the holdup has to do with the fact the board is volunteer-based.

"We're all volunteers, we all have full-time jobs. We just haven't gotten it done yet, but we will

shortly," said Carlson.

The food bank was based for free in the basement at Overlander for more than 15 years.

"They never charged us a cent, they were just wonderful," said Joanne Teed, the food bank's vice-president.

"But it got to the point where we thought we should think about moving out and letting them have their space. They donated it for so long and they did not expect anything."

The food bank moved to Coronation Drive in May in order to increase capacity, said Teed. After hearing complaints that the new location is too far away they're looking at options.

"We looked downtown, but the rent was so expensive, so we decided to try out here," she said. "We have something in the works ... we will eventually move back downtown. I can't really say what it is right now. But we lost 30 or 40 per cent of our clients since we moved. I don't know if the bus comes anywhere near here."

At the Overlander site, said Teed, they used to give away 150 baskets of food - valued around $30 each - but since moving they're giving away around 100. Janine Jenken, a volunteer working behind the counter, said 84 people had come in to the warehouse by 11:30 on Saturday. Janine Jenken, a volunteer working behind the counter at the warehouse, said around 180 people receive the food baskets but not all of them are able to get to Coronation Drive. She said arrangements have been made with recipients to deliver baskets to people who aren't able to make it out to the remote location. She said while some downtown customers have been lost she has noticed new customers - who live near the present location - are satisfied with the current locale.

Teed said when a downtown outlet has been negotiated they'll continue to use the Kam Lake-area warehouse

as the main depot.

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