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The Fredericton Food Bank bought the old Green Village Garden Centre. (Google Streetview)

After more than 20 years in cramped quarters, the Fredericton Food Bank purchased the bankrupt Green Village Garden Centre in the city's north side and has already begun moving in.

"It's going to make it a whole lot easier because we can see what we have," said Elizabeth Thurber, executive director of Fredericton's Food bank.

Thurber said she still finds it hard to believe that a 9,600-square-foot building will be the new home for the clothing and food bank.

The food bank put down $400,000 on the $800,000 structure — money raised mainly through donations.

"This is truly the biggest gift we have ever have received. We have been looking for many, many years "

For more than two decades, the food bank has been operating in cramped quarters. There's limited storage space, so food is kept in three warehouses.

At the current location, food baskets are handed out through the basement window; people have to wait outside, even in winter.

"It's going to serve people with dignity and grace. They will have some food choices they have never had before," said Thurber.

The larger building will host meetings, cooking and nutrition classes. Thurber also wants to start community gardens in some of the greenhouses.

"On 10 or 15 acres of garden you can grow tons and tons of food," she said.

Thurber said the food bank would continue to rely on donations, but it will also apply for government funds available for community service programs.

For longtime worker Jim Smith, moving to the larger quarters will make it easier on everyone.

"It's been a long time coming, but it's going to be wonderful," said Smith.

Thurber hopes to have some of the food bank's services up and running by the end of the year.