Sackville Food Bank has new temporary home thanks to café owners' donation
Owners of the Black Duck Cafe have welcomed the food bank into their storefront for as long as it's needed
Another reversal of fortune has provided the Sackville Food Bank with a temporary home less than a week after a flood forced volunteers out of their building and destroyed much of the food bank's stock.
The owners of a downtown café stepped up to donate their extra storefront space for as long as the food bank needs it.
Heather Patterson woke up to news a week ago that the food bank was covered in two inches of water. She and the other volunteers quickly switched gears and set up a makeshift food bank in Patterson's sun room.
While everyone who signed up for food got it last week, Paterson knew her sun room wasn't a long-term solution.
Then one email over the weekend solved many of her problems.
"We had local restaurant owners step forward and say, 'Would you guys like our empty storefront? And for as long as you need it,'" said Patterson.
The storefront is much more than just empty space. It also has freezers and fridges, which are necessary tools in the food bank business.
"It's really great because I don't know what we would have done," said Patterson.
On Monday, volunteers moved the non-perishable food from Patterson's house to the new space, and on Tuesday they tackled an extra-large shipment from their main supplier, Food Depot Alimentaire.
"They knew we couldn't access most of our food, and so they sent extra this week," Patterson said. "It was a really big load."
More food means more work for the 10 volunteers. Even at their regular spot, they unload pallets by hand, passing cases of canned goods and pasta from one person to the next until everything is on a shelf.
Not everything fit in the new smaller space, but Patterson said her volunteers are expert problem-solvers and organizers. When the fridges filled up, volunteers pulled up within minutes to load surplus food into their cars where it was whisked away to available fridge space at a private home.
The storefront on Bridge Street is much more public than the food bank's normal home, but that also comes with benefits, according to Patterson.
Passersby have helped to unload cars and chipped a path through a snowbank to allow for easier access to the building.
"I think that is very cool," said Kevin Hicks.
He regularly volunteers at the food bank and sometimes uses its services.
Hicks said he likes to help out, and it's heartwarming to see the number of people and businesses donating goods and money to the local food bank. It's something he thinks more people should do.
"Anybody who wants to donate to something, this is a worthy cause because maybe someday down the road you'll have to go," said Hicks.
Patterson said it will be at least a month before the food bank is back in its old home, which had only recently been renovated.
"They had to take up our brand new floor, and they have to take out the walls and the cabinets in our kitchen and our washroom facilities," she said. "We haven't even had a chance to have a grand opening yet because of COVID."
But in the meantime, the Sackville Food Bank is in full operation.