Feezah Jaffer, executive director of Surrey Food Bank. (File photo)

Surrey Food Bank’s ‘huge’ move to Newton begins this month

‘We’re going to have space to do the things that we haven’t had a chance to do before’

Surrey Food Bank will temporarily close for two weeks this month as part of plans to move to Newton.

The organization will close its City Parkway location from June 22 to July 3, and will reopen at a new site on Monday, July 6.

“The new location is on 78th (Avenue) and King George (Boulevard) but we’re not sharing the exact location just yet,” for fear of confusing clients, said Feezah Jaffer, executive director.

“We’ve started giving out flyers to our clients saying we’re moving, and they’re asking where they should go,” she added. “So we don’t want people to flood the new location until we’re there.”

For nearly a decade, the food bank had searched for a bigger, more suitable location, and found it in Newton. News of the move was announced last October.

On Monday, the closing and reopening dates were posted to social media.

“The week of the 15th (of June) is when we’ll announce the new location,” Jaffer explained. “We’re shutting down for two weeks, as of the 19th, to move, and we should be open at the new location on July 6 – that’s our goal, and knock on wood that everything gets done in time.

“Right now our biggest challenge is just getting the word out to our clients that no, we’re not closing permanently,” she added. “We’re going to be giving double hampers the two weeks previous, so people will still get food, and we’ll be trying to give extra once we reopen in the new location as well, so people shouldn’t worry about getting enough during those two weeks.”

The “huge” move speaks to the evolution of the organization, which has been located at 10732 City Parkway for close to 30 years.

The new site, like the current one, is owned by Surrey Food Bank Society.

“It’s a huge undertaking, 10 years in the making,” Jaffer said, “but I think it’s a great step forward for our organization and will solidify us as a leader in food security and in the non-profit world. We’re going to have space to do the things that we haven’t had a chance to do before.”

Jaffer said the new facility is three times larger than the current one, and will serve as a more of a hub for information and referrals, with a dedicated community room and other amenities.

“We’ll have more storage and cooler capacity, so we’ll be able to take more fresh produce and get that to the clients,” she explained. “It’s going to be pretty huge for us. And we’ll have dedicated space for our volunteers, with a kitchen and lounge where they can have those bonding experiences and space just for them on their breaks, and staff will have their own office space as well, for the first time, so that’s great as well.”

The new site in Newton is “more central,” Jaffer said, and is located near two bus stops. There’s also more parking.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the food bank has seen registration numbers increase, Jaffer said.

“But because of the all the supports that have come in, such as CERB, from the government, the rise hasn’t been as exponential as we thought it was going to be,” she said. “However, we are looking at the next three to six months, what that will look like, because there’s no guarantee that the economy will bounce back right away, and we know some people might be working as much or having their business stay closed, those kinds of things. So we expect another surge in the next few months, and God forbid if there’s another wave of COVID, we have to be prepared for that.”

Jaffer said support of the food bank has been “tremendous” during the pandemic.

• RELATED STORY: Surrey Food Bank rises to meet challenge but real test is yet to come.

“The (donation) levels have been amazing, past our Christmas numbers, and we really have to thank people for that,” she said. “It’s been great but we’re seeing a bit of a slowdown now, maybe as people get on with their lives a bit more, but again, if the gathering ban of 50 people is still in place by Thanksgiving and Christmas, our fundraising in our peak time is going to look very different than in previous years, and then the donations we’ve seen come in over the past 12 weeks will have to sustain us until maybe next year.

“Between February and July, it’s kind of a slow time for us, donation wise,” she added. “We really have to budget very conservatively this year, with the move and everything else that is happening.”


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