Port Angeles Food Bank starts fundraising campaign

Facility planned to be a service hub

PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles Food Bank has kicked off a $5 million fundraising campaign for the purchase and remodel of the facility it has used since November 2020.

With $4 million already pledged and awarded by various government agencies and foundations, the community is being asked for the remaining $1 million to close the gap in the Nourish to Flourish Capital Campaign, said Emily Dexter, executive director, in a press release.

Construction at the 2,600-square-foot facility at 632 N. Oakridge Drive got underway during summer 2021, with completion expected early this year, she said.

Renovations will allow a return to the grocery-store model that was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

They also will make possible expanded opportunities. Among the hopes for the facility is that it can not only distribute free food to those in need but also become a service hub.

“It takes more than food to lift the veil of poverty,” Dexter said.

The idea is to offer shared meeting and office space to agencies offering support with housing challenges, utilities, mental health, counseling and transportation co-located in the building.

“Meeting people where they are when they shop for free groceries can reduce the service runaround and allow for more people to get the support they need,” Dexter said, adding that workshops on such topics as financial management, careers and homebuying are to be conducted in the new training room.

The Port Angeles Food Bank moved into its new facility, which provides nearly double the space of its former longtime home, at 402 S. Valley St., because of the demands created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Lines of individuals seeking assistance grew, but the old building was too small to handle the demand,” Dexter said in a press release. “After two months of turning away semi-trucks loaded with fresh food, for lack of space, the food bank acted quickly when a former beverage warehouse became available” and negotiated a lease-to-own agreement.

It has been operating as a drive-through distribution center since the move in 2020.

“But that’s not ideal so plans were developed swiftly to create a grocery market in the new space,” Dexter said.

Renovations are revising the interior to house Dexter’s grocery-store model, which was abandoned in March 2020 when the food bank switched to drive-though distribution to shield clients and staff from the unique coronovirus.

The grocery-store model allowed clients to choose their own food. They were assigned points according to household size and shopped for what they needed, using the points like money. Healthier food choices cost fewer points.

The Market at Port Angeles Food Bank will offer fresh produce, milk, eggs and meat, as well as pet food, personal care, baby and household goods.

“Many households struggle to afford non-food items not covered by food assistance programs like SNAP (formerly known as Food Stamps),” Dexter said.

The new space has an abundance of refrigeration and storage capacity to meet the food security needs of Port Angeles and the region.

The Port Angeles Food Bank (PAFB) provides food for 200,000 meals each month and supports 13 area food pantries and partner agencies working to nourish the community with emergency and supplemental food, Dexter said.

Grab-and-go snacks and entrees will be a new addition to the food bank, made possible by the commercial kitchen being built as part of the remodel, Dexter said.

“Once finished, there will be very little waste coming from the food bank. Soups, sandwiches and frozen meals to heat and eat will be created using excess food bank inventory, an overabundance of gleaned produce and ingredients from local farms,” she said.

“The PAFB remodel is made possible by a dynamic project team,” Dexter said.

Steve Zenovic, of ZTC, LLC, is overseeing the work as development manager. Zenovic is working closely with local designer Todd Spencer. Neely Construction is the contractor.

Donations to help finish the project are tax-deductible.

“Contributions provided will increase food security in our region, reduce food waste and co-locate social services, thus creating a more significant collective impact for Clallam County,” Dexter said.

For more information about the project, to schedule a tour or make an online donation, go to www.portangelesfoodbank.org/forever-home.

Checks made out to Port Angeles Food Bank with “Nourish to Flourish” on the memo line can be mailed to PO Box 1885, Port Angeles, WA 98362.

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Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at [email protected].

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