The old Stanley Gordon School is one site the Lake Cowichan food bank is looking at as a new home. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)

Lake Cowichan food bank walking on eggshells after theft and possible relocation

Summer food stocks could be bolstsered

Lake Cowichan Food Bank Society treasurer Katherine Worsley said the group is doing as one would expect in terms of summertime stockpiles, and while donations are always welcome, it’s a secure food storage space and a permanent home the group dreams of most.

“Because it’s the summer season, there are less donations coming in this time of year, but we are doing OK in regards to our food source that we have,” Worsley said. “One of the situations that we have is making sure we have a constant safe food storage and a permanent home to distribute from.”

Worsley explained that sometime between June 22 and June 26 thieves stole $469 worth of bottles and cans that had been collected by the food bank. Fortunately the community saw fit to step up and then some.

“Our community restored us to $550-plus then donated extra bottles and cans,” she said, adding that it was a blow to the volunteer-driven group as bottle drives are a lot of hard work.

As frustrating as that was, what’s more frustrating for the group is being seemingly constantly upended.

They do have a one-year lease at their current space but four months ago were informed that the possibility is there that they may need to seek out another place yet again.

“The space that we are in is a commercial space and the landlord is giving it to us at a discounted rate, but if we weren’t there, who would he have in there? It put us on eggshells again,” she said.

Worsley said one avenue she’s been exploring is the potential the old Stanley Gordon school has to house a number of the region’s non-profit groups.

“We have submitted a letter to the school board (SD79), requesting that many societies could be housed in the old Stanley Gordon school. A lot of organizations do not have a permanent site, a permanent home,” she said. “They’re working out of their personal homes. It would be great to have these organizations come together.”

The old school has many classrooms, she said and one classroom could hold one or two societies, at the same time maintaining the grounds, keeping someone on site and storing various tools, gear, and belongings of the various societies, she explained.

Worsley said she’d always been under the impression the old school was not fit to occupy but when she heard the Town of Lake Cowichan had put forward a proposal to use the space when the new Town Hall offices are rebuilt, she thought about the food bank’s need for a permanent home and about all of the other societies, too.

“Right now the school board is off…we hope to hear something by the end of August,” Worsley said. “Right now they’re in conversation with the Town so we can’t go anywhere with it.”

School district officials confirmed Stanley Gordon school has been eyed by more than one prospective tenant.

“There have been informal email conversations with staff about the possibility of use of the vacant Stanley Gordon school in Lake Cowichan by a variety of groups,” said Robyn Gray, superintendent of the Cowichan Valley School District. “So far, no formal conversations or decisions have been made.”

But for now, there’s always a need for food bank donations.

“There’s definitely less food donated this time of year,” Worsley said. “It definitely is a crisis that there’s always someone in need and we have to be constantly aware of it. So long as there’s one person in need, there is a need to continue our food bank donations and services.”

Send “Lake Cowichan Foodbank” a message on Facebook to set up a time and place to donate.

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