With demand for food banks increasing, a volunteer with a regional food distributor said he is excited to see the vision of a suitable warehouse coming together.
Rolland Manning started volunteering with the Regional Food Distribution Association four years ago. The 73-year-old-retiree, helped in the first phase of the demolition process of an old grocery store on Syndicate Avenue, now the new home of RFDA, on Saturday.
About 25 volunteers knocked down walls and moved unwanted material, while Manning acted as a site supervisor and gave directions to the volunteers.
"The volunteers have come here for one reason and that is to give something back," Manning said. "Whether they are retired or students or just working people, they want to give something back."
Manning, who worked in customer services and owned a cleaning business, said his volunteer work suited his ideas of good customer service.
Before the move, RFDA had a warehouse on McKenzie Street. Manning said it could take five hours to unload a large truck at the old building. However, the new building would be able to have the truck pull up to the warehouse and unload using a forklift.
"Everybody that is here is here for the same reason; they want to see this thing go ahead," he said. "I think this location will benefit a lot of people in region. There is a lot of things that can go on in this building that we wouldn’t have done in the other one."
Manning said all the volunteers are focused on getting the warehouse set up as soon as possible. He said he would like to see younger people come to help since most volunteers are seniors.
Volker Kromm, executive director with the Regional Food Distribution Association, said RFDA planned to tender work to contractors for phase two. RFDA received about $500,000 from the federal government’s Community Adjustment Fund.
Kromm said more people had used RFDA's services in Thunder Bay in the past year.
"It’s not something you want to be proud of by saying that our food bank is growing," Kromm said. "You want to see the decline and the eventually disappearance of food banks. The reality is a lot of people are hurting and that’s why we are here."
Kromm said they planned to move into the new building by September but probably wouldn’t until October.
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