Delays to food bank opening

The Kanesatake Health Center (KHC) this week announced major delays in the opening of the hotly anticipated community food bank, after issues with the space in the new community building.

“There has been an issue with the ventilation that kept us from using the fridge and freezer, and therefore we could not keep food there,” said Michelle Béland, community health representative at KHC. “Fortunately, we caught the problem early enough to avoid any equipment or infrastructure getting seriously damaged.”

The space reserved for the food bank does not have adequate ventilation, something Béland explained was not clear before past KHC administrations purchased the fridge-freezer units.

“Unfortunately, we were not involved in the design, conception, or construction of the building. We worked with existing plans and a walk-in fridge-freezer that had already been purchased by the previous administration which was moved to the area identified for the food bank in the community building,” Béland explained. “The complications arose after several days of operating the freezer.”

Béland said that at this point, it’s unclear when the food bank will be ready to operate, as many of the delays are dependent on when external companies can complete work to make the space operable again. Climate control units will need to be installed in order to ensure the fridge-freezers do not overheat while running.

“We have been working on fixing the problem ever since it occurred, but unfortunately we have no control over the delays given by the ventilation companies,” she said. “The steps are already very well underway to solve the problem.”

Once climate control units are installed in the space, Béland said that the team will make sure the fix is permanent, allowing for the longevity of the food bank going forward.

“We are having the entire ventilation infrastructure inspected to ensure that no further complications arise,” she noted.

For many, it may be disappointing to hear that this much-needed community resource is facing delays. However, Béland said that community members can still reach out for help if they need resources.

“There are other food banks in the area that can provide them with food in the meantime. We have been helping community members in that regard,” she said. “Anyone who is struggling to get access to food can communicate with us and we will provide them with a list of other food banks that can accommodate them for now.”

Once the fridge is installed, community members can expect a wealth of food, which will be provided by food aid organization Moisson Laurentides.

“We won’t know in advance what kind of food we will have each week, it will vary,” said Béland. “There will be refrigerated food, frozen food, dry goods. We are hoping to have hygiene products from time to time as well.”Béland also noted that the team will be open to feedback about the types of food provided.

“We will adjust along the way according to the needs of our community members,” she said. “We are working towards making this a very welcoming environment for all users and are looking forward to the official opening!”

Community members can check KHC’s Facebook page for continued updates concerning the community food bank.

Eve Cable, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door