Kelowna Food Bank

Kelowna Food Bank

If you haven’t taken a tour of your local food bank facility lately, we strongly suggest you do. Primarily because the work that is being done in most cities is vast, the numbers are staggering and the stories compelling. But, in addition to that, you’ll find strength and innovation and hope, something you may not expect to see.

At least that is the case with the Central Okanagan Food Bank, located in Kelowna B.C. Canada. Under the guidance and leadership of Lenetta Perry and a plethora of dedicated, smart and soulful staff and volunteers, this facility is like nothing you could imagine. It is a bright building, filled with hope and promise. Fifteen years ago Lenetta started to dream up a concept of how to better serve their clients. For some, the food bank is a monthly necessity with the burgeoning rising cost of living. For others, it may be a one off thing, due to recent illness or a temporary lay off. For all, though, the staff and volunteers at COFB have the same goal… make the experience as dignified and pleasant as possible… and that they did.

When you walk in the first thing you notice is the look. It looks like any corner store market. Shelving is open, coolers line the walls and grocery carts are lined up waiting for eager shoppers. When designing the space, the care and attention went in to how you feel when you are there. Studies show that experiences preclude mindsets, so when you are treated with respect, your mindset can shift to a feeling of worth and satisfaction. When that happens, you are more likely to make inroads to changing your circumstances. Makes sense doesn’t it? Patrons are encouraged to wander the aisles, choosing the food that they and their family like and can use.

In addition to this “market style” concept, this contemporary building has high ceilings for easier more appealing work space, double the storage so that they can accommodate more community offerings, and coolers and freezers, to make the most impact of the donations they get and stretch the life of the product.

And as if this weren’t enough, they have designed a “career kitchen” within the space for a variety of reasons. First, they can rent it out to caterers or party planners to help with revenue costs of running the charity. They also plan to use it to capture a zero waste philosophy, making sauces and soups with ripe vegetables, bread crumbs with stale bread etc. , and lastly, they plan on running classes for their clients to help them make the most of the food that is provided, with focus being on creating healthy affordable meals your family will eat. Brilliant!

The COFB is a cutting edge facility and the team that runs it are nothing short of low flying angels. Lenetta says she is encouraged by the amount of phone calls they get, asking about how they have managed to create such a space, and they are mentoring other agencies on how they can better serve their community. This is the type of care we need in this world. Food banks are needed to ensure that our basic human rights are fulfilled, but with people and buildings like this, it’s not just about the food…. It’s about the love.

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