Rayna Wettberg and her son Blake pick out food at the new Central Okanagan Community Food Bank in Kelowna Wednesday. —Image: Alistair Waters/Capital News

New food bank, with new approach opens in Kelowna

Food bank now offers its clients the feeling of shopping at a food market

The Central Okanagan Community Food Bank has opened the doors of its new location, a larger facility on Enterprise Way in Kelowna that offers its clients a unique experience more akin to shopping at a grocery story than being given food at a traditional food bank.

Food bank executive director Lenetta Parry said it’s important for clients to leave feeling good about themselves and their experience. And the new facility, fresh off months of renovations, allows for that, she added

“We want people, when they leave to feel good about their experience, like that have received a little help,” said Parry. “We all need help sometimes.”

See related story: Kelowna food bank buys big new building

The former office furniture showroom and warehouse where the food bank is now located gives the facility nearly 15,000-square-food of space, warehouse facilities with high ceilings, two loading docks and three times the cold storage space for food that the former 5,000-square-foot space on Ellis Street in the city’s downtown provided. It also has a 27-stall parking lot.

On Wednesday, the facility officially opened its doors, a move that meant the society that operates it no longer needs to rent four warehouse spaces around town just to store food it distributes through its Kelowna and West Kelowna locations. The Central Okanagan Food Bank also acts as distribution hub for the national food banks organization and distributes between 30,000 and 50,000 pounds of food to smaller food banks across the region.

And the clients really like the new facility, atmosphere and lay out.

“I think it’s fantastic,” said Rayna Wettberg as she picked up food for her family along with her 2 1/2-year-old son Blake on Wednesday afternoon.

She said she loves the grocery market approach, noting in the past, at times, she received food and items she did not need as part of the hamper she was given.

But the new system allows her “shop” for what she and her family require, something she said is not only convenient, it makes her feel good about her experience.

“To me this feels like a real store,” said Wettberg, adding the food bank has has been a wonderful help for her family over the years.

In addition to food donations, cash contributions are also accepted. The money is used to buy food for distribution.

For every $1 donated, the food bank is able to buy $2 worth of food, said board chairman Kevin Smith.

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