Volunteers work to make new food bank a reality – one nail at a time

By Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative reporter    
July 22 2020

GUYSBOROUGH -- In mid-March the Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) released its 2020-2021 budget which included $100,000 earmarked for the construction of a stand-alone building to house the Guysborough and Area Food Bank, which is currently run from office space in the local shopping plaza.

The seed was planted for the new building last Christmas when the food bank came to MODG looking for more space from which to run the operation. Glen Avery, director of Public Works for MODG told The Journal on Saturday, “We did not have the space at the time so what we did was, at that point, got the ball rolling with council. This year we proposed to help them out a little more and we decided we would help them build. We made a financial commitment and said we would try to do as much of it as we could with volunteers. We did go to the province and the province was really good to contribute as well.

“From there we started checking around with some of the local businesses,” said Avery, many were forthcoming with support for the project, volunteering supplies and labour.

Framing of the building started on Friday, Avery said, looking at the progress of construction on the site located next to the school bus garage on Green Street, “we’ll hopefully have the roof tight by the end of the day.”

The hope is to have more volunteer hours to assist in the completion of the building, which has 1200 square feet of space; much more room than the food bank’s current location. “It’s amazing what they do with the space that they have,” said Avery. “They said they could use more volunteers, but they just don’t have the space. People are volunteering all the time.”

One of the hands swinging a hammer on site was Danny Procure of D. Procure Construction. In the midst of a very busy construction season, he’s happy to put his time into the food bank project. “It’s going up fast,” he said Friday. “We started this morning and we’re plywooding the roof now.

“It was great to have the volunteers…I called some people and they were all eager. They showed up today to help us and it was greatly appreciated. It was for a good cause,” Procure said of the approximately five volunteers and some municipal employees that volunteered to frame the building.

“I originally volunteered to the food bank itself to frame their building,” said Procure, adding that he has always been a supporter of the organization. “It’s good for the community, for people who need it. It’s there to help people – we all need food.”

Food bank Secretary Elizabeth Connolly said of the construction progress on Saturday, “It is exciting for us to see that construction is well under way. It is hard to believe, for the volunteers, that we are actually going to have a building with that much space provided in it.

“We can’t thank the municipal and provincial governments enough for their support in this project. And also, the volunteers in our community that are volunteering their time to go there for the last number of days. It is amazing what they have done in two days; the framing of the building,” said Connolly.

For many years the food bank has been operating out of a small space, which Connolly said they were grateful to have, but the new building “is something we are very much looking forward to this fall…It will be so much better for our clients. When they come in, they will have a little more room and there definitely will be privacy…It’s going to be great for everybody all-around.”

The municipality is overseeing the construction of the new building and Connolly said, “That is a big benefit to us; something that we don’t have to worry about.”

The new facility will have proper refrigeration and storage space. “We’re not going to be all over the community trying to store things now,” said Connolly, adding that while right now the focus is on the efforts of volunteers working on the building construction, the food bank, “can’t forget the public in our area that are always good to support us. It’s all-around generosity that we are receiving.”

As for when the food bank can move into their new home, Avery said, “They are hoping the sooner the better, of course. I am hoping some time by October; I dare say, we should have it ready.”