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Ottawa Food Bank moving to larger warehouse this fall


The Ottawa Food Bank is moving to a larger warehouse this fall.

The food bank said Tuesday the move would enable it to increase its capacity to accept higher volumes of donated fresh and frozen foods.

The Ottawa Food Bank is currently located in a 20,000 sq. ft. warehouse at 1317 Michael St., but staff say capacity limits have resulted in "an annual loss of $80,000 in large food donations."

The new 43,000 sq. ft. facility at 2001 Bantree St., about 3 km to the south of the food bank's current location, would be retrofitted to increase its cold storage capacity by almost 300 per cent.

"Ultimately, this will mean better health outcomes for those accessing a food bank in Ottawa," said CEO Rachel Wilson in a media release.

The Ottawa Food Bank says it will launch a fundraising campaign to cover retrofit expenses and assist in the purchasing of equipment. The food bank estimates it will cost about $4 million.

Speaking on CTV Morning Live, Wilson said the organization has outgrown the Michael Street site, where it has been for the last 18 years, and their lease is up this year.

She said the fundraising campaign will look to raise about $800,000 of the projected $4 million cost to retrofit the new warehouse.

"We've been saving for a couple of years now to make sure we could move when we knew our lease was up," she said.

The need to expand facilities comes amid a 17 per cent increase in demand for food bank services. Wilson said she expects to see a sustained increase in demand for some time because of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The larger space would also allow the food bank to bring in more staff and volunteers, she said.

"We probably will be increasing staff a little bit, but that's because we know that we want to focus on being able to reduce the need in the community, so, investing in programs that really help people move out of poverty and reduce the need of food insecurity," Wilson said. "More importantly, we'll be able to have more volunteers in our space as well and help us get that food out into the community."

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