Nfld. & Labrador

NL Eats — the Snowmageddon-inspired food bank that delivers — needs a new home

NL Eats began as a Facebook page highlighting provincial cuisine following last year's massive blizzard before organizers launched Project #FoodForThoughtNL — a community-driven food bank that delivers food to anyone who needs it.

What began as a Facebook page highlighting N.L. cuisine now has helped more than 1,300 people

NL Eats marketing director Adib Rahman says the mobile food bank is looking for a new home. (Heather Gillis/CBC)

A St. John's mobile food bank has outgrown its garage headquarters and is searching for a new home, to help it continue to provide food to hundreds of people across the region.

NL Eats began after Snowmageddon as a Facebook page highlighting provincial cuisine before organizers launched Project #FoodForThoughtNL — a community-driven food bank that delivers food to anyone who needs it.

Then, just a month into it, the pandemic hit Newfoundland and Labrador, and Adib Rahman, NL Eats' director of marking, lost his job.

"I was a chef in a restaurant, and I realized I wasn't alone in this," he said.

"We were thinking we should do something to help the community, and [a] food bank came into mind. We were reliant on a food bank once upon a time when we first came here … so we started the food bank and over the year things just snowballed into a lot more stuff."

What started as a six-person operation in Rahman's garage has grown to more than 150 volunteers who have served more than 1,300 people.

He said NL Eats prepares food deliveries for more than 500 regular participants, but also provides deliveries to groups like families and seniors who come to the group's Facebook page asking for help.

"We believe in helping every single person without any bias or any conditions," he said.

The team moved its operations into St. David's Church in St. John's but, as reduced COVID-19 restrictions have allowed churches and some businesses to reopen, is back in the garage and looking for a new home. Rahman said running the food bank in a small space has become increasingly difficult.

"We can't have more than three volunteers inside. And even with three volunteers, one volunteer would have to open the garage door and stand outside just to maintain that standard of safety. It becomes difficult," Rahman said.

NL Eats is a mobile food bank; instead of having a central location where people pick up food, NL Eats delivers the food to them. (Submitted by Lindsay Newman)

"You have 150 people on your list that you have to serve, and you realize quickly that the garage is filled, almost the driveway is filled, and you can go only go so far until you run out of space. With snow there's so much restrictions, because with snow on the driveway you can't even put hampers out there."

Rahman said the team is looking for a space large enough to safely accommodate five people for four hours two days a week. He said the non-profit group is also willing to pay some rent toward the use of the space.

He hopes space can be found soon, allowing NL Eats to continue its work preparing deliveries every two weeks.

"The need is very great out there," he said.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Heather Gillis and Alex Kennedy

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