Think you know food banks? Think again, says The Peter McKee Community Food Centre

 

13466497_10154128657926006_8290197006759288488_n

by Steve Dawson.

“Wow!” is the first word out of my mouth, upon visiting the new Peter McKee Community Food Centre in Moncton this week.  The freshly painted, bright and spacious building feels more like a modern coffee shop or neighbourhood market than what might normally come to mind when picturing a local “food bank”.  In fact, they rarely even use that term here… and with good reason.

The newly renovated food centre (in a former a military base gym) at the corner of St. George Street and Vaughn Harvey Boulevard features a coffee/waiting area, a children’s play area, community garden, volunteer area, boardroom and much more.  This was all part of the vision when three Greater Moncton food banks (Open Hands, Second Mile, West End) recently combined to create one large, centralized, efficient entity.

13619886_10154165693446006_9095158185808075190_nAnd as Food Centre Manager, Ben MacMichael, explains, additional offerings are still under construction including a teaching kitchen, and a thrift store (run by local non-profit Nazareth House).

His pride is evident as he gives me the tour, especially when describing the new food storage areas which include a large cold room and walk-in fridge/freezer, a far cry from what he had to make do with in years past.  For Ben, it’s all about providing high quality service, “Food safety is a priority.  We want to make sure that everything we hand out is in the best condition it can possibly be.”

13612356_10154160733626006_4040863781454559312_n

The amount of effort required to provide such levels of service is also on display during my visit. The centre is a going concern, with numerous community volunteers constantly sorting donations and stocking shelves throughout the day.  But the results are impressive in terms of both quality and quantity of grocery options.  There are pre-packaged pantry items, breads, produce, and even tofu on hand.

And in addition to the standard items available at no charge, a new CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program has just begun.  The Farm Fresh Food For All program (a partnership with local farmers and the Greater Moncton United Way) allows for the purchase of local fresh vegetables at a greatly discounted price.

13592336_10154144282186006_8075773239280631241_n

So, despite ongoing upgrades to the facility, the Peter McKee Community Food Centre is definitely open for business, and their volunteers are more than ready to welcome you.

Plus, with the new mural out front… you can’t miss it!

(And for other similar fresh food box programs in Nova Scotia click here.)

Steve Dawson is the Community Connector with Our Food Southeast NB.  He likes food and ideas… and really likes ideas about food.

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s