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LETTER: Food Bank shares update on ‘Big Move’

The Chair of the Food Bank board provides update on move to new facility
Ground has officially broken for the BWG Community Hub as Mayor Rob Keffer and council took a tour of the area in May 2022.

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Dear Friends,

On behalf of the Board of Directors, I wanted to share an update on what is our largest undertaking in the history of the Helping Hand Food Bank, which we have come to call “the Big Move”.

This is an exciting project that pushes the Food Bank into the future and will secure a larger space where we can return to in-person shopping while supporting the growing community.

As many are aware, the Food Bank will be a part of the community hub that will be located at 177 Church St, the site of the former Bradford Public School.

Why this site? For one, this site is 25,000 square feet of community space for social services, a rentable hall with commercial kitchen, meeting spaces and a small business resource centre. The Food Bank will be housed in the northeast corner, in roughly 4,500 square feet of the total building footprint.

The Town has a total budget of $12 million — which includes renovations, land acquisition and all soft costs — and this investment will not only provide necessary community space; it will also serve to cut in half the building’s utility costs and greenhouse gas emissions. All told, the costs to acquire and renovate this building are less than half what a new building of its size would otherwise cost. We believe that shows the prudence at play in this Town decision.

We understand that there were some issues in the oldest section of the building dating from the 1950s that delayed the renovations by a few weeks this summer, but the project is still generally on time and on budget. We understand there will also be a grant announced in the near future that will cover half the total budgeted costs, from an external funding source.

Working with the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury, we have secured a key space in this community hub that will keep the Food Bank within the community with easy access for our clients, which is important to everyone: clients must be able to easily access our services.

The Food Bank has been working closely with the Town on our share of the space, including already agreeing to a financial contribution to the Town to help cover the renovations for our area. We also anticipate arriving at a fair lease agreement that will see the Food Bank paying rent and utilities -- something that we have not had to do in our history to date. The Food Bank will be one of several paying tenants in this new Town-run facility. Town staff have presented some operating pro formas about how to run and staff the entire community hub space, but those decisions are broader than the Food Bank’s position as a tenant, and of course subject to the usual 2023 Town budget deliberations.

After the building is completed, the Food Bank will need to pay for the fitting out of our space -- equipment such as walk in fridge/freezer, display shelves, warehouse shelving, etc. are all costs that the Food Bank is required to pay for as part of this move. We have been working with all levels of government and applying for grants to assist in supporting/covering these costs. I am happy to share that we have secured a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation that will help to reduce our overall investment for these items but this grant does not cover all of the costs of the Big Move.

Please consider making a donation towards our capital costs today:

This is an exciting project! We are very grateful to the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury for making this decision to strategically invest in a new community space, one in which we will be able to use a portion of the space to continue to serve the vulnerable in Town for years in the future. I hope you find this update about the progress helpful.

Thank you,

Brian Febel
Chair of the Board, Bradford Helping Hand Food Bank