BROCKVILLE, ONT. -- A special delivery at the Brockville and Area Food Bank Tuesday afternoon, as the Brockville Home Depot donated a new food storage shed.

"I feel amazing! I got a little emotional thanking the Home Depot crew," said Hailie Jack, executive director for the food bank. "They did a food drive and brought us a $100 donation as well. The community spirit in Brockville for this food bank is rich and I think we all feel really blessed."

The food bank has offered a free food service outdoors since the beginning of the pandemic, allowing people to select items anonymously, but the old system was not weatherproof. It used wire shelves that had to be brought inside during rain and snow. This new shed will now be a permanent solution.

Food bank food shelves

"During COVID, we had to think of an alternative solution to have our free food accessible to the community," Jack said. "It used to be kept in-house, but with capacity limits and shutdowns, it was impossible.

"The team before I even arrived here came up with the idea to keep it outside, and we quickly learned that there were downfalls to that, especially rain."

Jack approached Ernie Olivo at Habitat for Humanity to see if they would like to help address the situation. Olivo made a post on Facebook, and Home Depot reached out to both of them, willing to do the entire project.

"COVID isn't going anywhere, capacity limits are still really low, so in order to have people access it as much as we can, this is now rainproof; we can keep the food out all day," Jack said.

"Another benefit of having it out here that we've noticed is our visitors are people who might not necessarily be registered with us," Jack added. "So they are stopping by and accessing this and meeting a food security need in their life without having to come in for whatever reason. It may be stigma, it might be time, so it's filling bellies more than what we are filling inside. We thought it was important to keep access outside as a permanent solution."

The shed will be filled with items like bread, produce, and canned goods as well as pet food.

"We have sometimes 10 to 20 people waiting in the morning to access the free food, and then it's a steady stream all day of people coming up," Jack said.

"Thanks Home Depot, we're very grateful for what you have done and thanks to our community," Jack added. "We're happy to be here in service for everyone."

The free food access is available during normal operating hours Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the second Monday of each month from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.