East end food bank planned

An east end community group says a new food bank serving their area is in the works.

Brendan Tait, the group’s chair, says formal discussions will begin “as soon as possible” with St. Matthew’s House.

“Six months is a very conservative estimate,” Tait said at a recent meeting at the Dominic Agostino Riverdale Community Centre.

St. Matthew’s House executive director Steve Leighfield confirmed the group has asked the charitable organization to help oversee the creation and operation of the food bank.

“The discussions are still preliminary,” said Leighfield. “We see (a food bank) as a good extension of what we do and important for the area. There is a significant need.”

The organization has about $80,000 in donations and startup funding so far. A proposed cell tower in the commercial area of the South Service Road and Centennial Parkway could provide up to $40,000 per year in funding to the group, said Judy Kloosterman, a community development worker for the Riverdale and east end area.

For the last 18 months, Ward 5 Councillor Chad Collins has shepherded the group of east-end residents as they attempt to figure out the best way to open a food bank in their area. The problem started when the Stoney Creek Community Food Bank relocated in late 2012 from its King Street location to Highway 8 near Fruitland Road.

Under the partnership, St. Matthew’s House would have oversight of any money that is raised for the east-end food bank.

Eventually, Tait said, the community group will take responsibility for the operation. St. Matthew’s House is expected to sign any lease for a building that houses the food bank.

Collins said Hamilton Food Share has agreed to supply food to the food bank. A location also needs to be determined, said Kloosterman. Requirements for a location include it has to be on a transit route, near a main street and it should not be too visible so people won’t be afraid to visit.