St. Marys Journal Argus
When the Salvation Army decided to relocate its Food Bank storage shelves and coolers from the back of the Water Street Thrift Store to the lower level of its Queen/Peel Street church building, increased space was one of the drivers. But that included increased vertical space — which created its own challenges.
“We had a man in donating food and he saw our plight,” explained Family and Community Services Coordinator Pam McGirr. “We told him we were going to be looking at a platform ladder. And he said, ‘let me work on that for you’.”
The new ladder’s value is over $300. McGirr says the donor wishes to remain anonymous. But she says the donation he quickly arranged — an indispensible piece of equipment that can be rolled around easily when no one is standing on it, but which employs a spring mechanism to lock in place automatically when there’s weight on it — is a dream come true . . . literally.
“I’ve dreamed about this,” McGirr laughed. “It’s amazing what will make a food bank person excited.
“Usually, it’s the food that comes in. But this will help us with our stocking and shelving so much.”
Space wasn’t the only reason for the recent move, which took place just before Christmas. The back rooms of the Thrift Store, McGirr concedes, were not ideal for food-related activities. There’s no running water, the aging construction includes gaps in wall and floor-coverings, and there’s no air conditioning.
Long-time Food Bank volunteer Susan Mowat recalls when the storage shelves originally moved out of the church’s lower level down to Water Street in the 1990s. At that time, she said, it was also expanded space that was the driver. But that’s because, in those days, the Food Bank occupied just a tiny back-room storage area while the main lower-level space was used for other purposes. So the move into the store’s back rooms reflected a growing client base.
Now, however, a still-growing client base combined with enhanced food safety regulations to force another move. And, especially given the recent platform ladder donation, McGirr and Mowat couldn’t be happier.
“It’s still a work in progress. We’re still settling in,” McGirr commented.
But she points to a five-pound bag of rice on the newly-installed (and higher) storage shelves and notes that, now, they can use the church’s certified kitchen to portion out that rice into smaller packages for placement in each food bank applicant’s allotment.
If they receive bulk donations from a business like Maple Leaf Foods/Schneiders, as regularly happens, they can break that down into smaller proportions, and have no concerns about Health Unit inspections.
“Downtown, we couldn’t do those things,” she said.
Looking around the shelves, McGirr comments that there is quite a bit of food now available, mainly due to left-over supplies that weren’t needed to distribute the 114 family hampers that were put together for Christmas. But she cautions that those supplies — especially of packaged macaroni and cheese and protein products — will soon dwindle.
“We always need donations,” she said. “This will be hollow and echoey in the next couple of months.”