From left, Les Haddad, assistant manager 203rd Save On Foods location, Darren Burrows, 240th location store manager, Ralph Peragine, 203rd location store manager, Mary Robson, executive director of the Friends in Need Food Bank, Glenda Siemens, store manager of the Pitt Meadows location and Corey Shkwarok, assistant manager of the 227th Save On Foods location, give a check to the food bank. (Contributed)

Friends In Need Food Bank reopens Monday in Maple Ridge after warehouse renovations

Extra racking installed along with new sprinklers and lighting at Maple Ridge location

The Friends In Need Food Bank closed its doors this week while renovations were completed to the warehouse.

The amount of racks was increased at the back of the building while seismic testing and a sprinkler upgrade took place and lighting was upgraded.

“We’re increasing our racking going up because we run out of space during certain times of the year. We need to find storage,” said Mary Robson, executive-director of the food bank.

“So this way we are hoping to keep everything in house because finding storage at Christmas time is an issue,” she said.

Volunteers from Morningstar Homes helped with the project by fixing holes in the wall and applying a fresh coat of paint.

Robson’s budget for the job is $25,000.

“If I were to repair all the walls and do all the painting it would have been quite a bit more than that,” said Robson gratefully.

“We are just blown away,” she said.

The food bank will also be getting a new $80,000 forklift with a higher reach that Robson was able to purchase through a gaming grant, along with smaller donations. The forklift will be arriving the second week of July.

Clients of the food bank were reminded of the renovations last week and encouraged to take extra food to get them through this week.

Robson is hoping to have all the renos done and the floor cleaned by Friday and be open to clients again on Tuesday.

Local Save On Foods stores made a $6,900 donation to the Friends In Need Food Bank from the inaugural Share It Forward campaign that took place June 15 to 17.

The weekend-long campaign took place at 161 stores across Western Canada and each store held various events including a Spin-the-Wheels and barbecues. Stores donated 25 per cent of all Western Family products purchased during the event.

“We are very fortunate to have four stores throughout our two communities,” said Robson.

Money from this event will be going to the food bank’s milk and eggs program and any fresh dairy product that they need and will last the food bank around two months.

The stores also support the Friends In Need Food Bank throughout the year through the B.C. Share Coupon program where $2 coupons are sold at the till.

“This time of the year is really when our inventory is low and we need the additional support,” said Robson.

In addition to the usual needs like Kraft dinner, canned fruit, canned tuna, canned vegetables, chili, ravioli, tomato sauce and tomato paste, the food bank is also in need of fresh vegetables and fruits.

Robson is hoping the Plant a Row, Grow a Row, Donate a Row campaign will catch on in the community where residents can donate fresh and presentable backyard garden donations.

For more information, go to friendsneedfood.com.

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