Growing community abundance
Golden Food Bank puts down new roots and expands services
From a distance, the building looks like a well cared-for house with a large, lovingly tended garden. Get closer and you can tell it’s the new home of the Golden Food Bank. From its new location, the food bank continues its essential work of providing food hampers to people in need, but it has also expanded on its mandate by offering additional food-related programming to the community.
The food bank moved in early summer 2021. One of its goals was to improve accessibility, as its previous, smaller facility could only be accessed by stairs.
“We wanted to make sure that the space was inclusive to everybody,” said Rachel Gamble, the food bank’s Manager of Special Projects & Fund Development. The new building, for example, has an accessible ramp.
It also has a huge yard and kitchens—which the society tailored to its needs with aid from the Food Access and Recovery Grants from Columbia Basin Trust. These grants help organizations increase the access of affordable, quality, local food to people in the Basin, with an emphasis on supporting vulnerable populations. Community Garden Shares, lawns-to-food initiatives and seed-saving libraries are just a few of the 24 projects that received over $850,000 in support in 2020.
The society used their portion of the funding to renovate the kitchen in the basement. Adding storage was a priority. “We definitely needed more storage and more space to expand our programming in the future,” Gamble said.
One of the reasons is the food bank’s partnership with the organization Loop.
Loop works with grocery stores to make sure that food that can’t be sold—it is near its expiry date or has torn packaging, for example, but is still completely edible—goes to the food bank instead of the landfill. In the first half of 2021 alone, this added up to over 12,600 kilograms of food recovered—which the food bank needed somewhere to store.
As for the garden, the food bank already had eight garden boxes at its old location, which it used to grow food for its hampers. In 2020, this amounted to 285 kilograms of veggies.
The yields at the new location are even more voluminous. “There’s triple the amount of space to have our own food grown here,” Gamble said. In addition to building garden boxes, they also planted directly in the ground. “We’re fortunate that the garden gets full sun for the majority of the day.”
The food bank and its clients won’t be the only ones who benefit. For example, the Métis Nation Columbia River Society is growing a few items as well. “Collaborating with community organizations provides us with more opportunities to share food and knowledge,” Gamble said.
Collaborations like this are helping the food bank become even more effective in the community—and Gamble appreciates the role the Trust has played, too. “The Trust has really given us the financial support to provide better access to those in Golden and surrounding areas.”
In 2020, the food bank provided hampers to over 912 households—about 19 per cent of the entire population of Golden and area. Because of the pandemic, which caused many people to lose their jobs, this marked a 23 per cent increase over 2019.
And it goes to show what an important resource the food bank is. With a new location and refreshed spaces—indoor and out—it is starting to become even more than a community food source, but a place where anyone can increase their food-related skills through volunteering and helping out in the garden.
“Now that we’ve settled in,” Gamble said, “we’ll have the ability to create food-related programs and events for the whole community to enjoy.”
Columbia Basin Trust supports the ideas and efforts of the people in the Columbia Basin. To learn more about the Trust’s programs and initiatives, and how it helps deliver social, economic and environmental benefits to the Basin, visit ourtrust.org or call 1-800-505-8998.
Submitted by Columbia Basin Trust