When Kingston city council meets Tuesday evening one of the items up for debate will be a staff report recommending the municipality contribute $375,000 for the creation of a community food redistribution warehouse.
The warehouse would fall under the umbrella of the KFL&A United Way, which is adding $250,000 as well.
Bhavana Varma, KFL&A United Way’s president and CEO, says that money should cover the startup cost and operation for a span of approximately five years.
“We need a central space so we can sort and clean and distribute and have volunteers work on that,” said Varma. “The Good Food Box is another example because they ran out of space because the demand for seniors’ food boxes is so high.”
The Good Food Box supplies meals to seniors in the region.
Another not-for-profit that stands to benefit from an 8,000- to 10,000-square foot warehouse that also has refrigeration, along with loading docks, is Lionhearts Inc.
Lionhearts founder and executive director Travis Blackmore says the organization collects donated food from businesses and organizations like Costco and then distributes that food to not-for-profits like Martha’s Table, which makes meals for individuals and families dealing with food insecurity.
Currently working out of the Kingston Gospel Temple, Blackmore says some of the donations they get — and with little or no notice — are tough to store at the church.
“To give you an idea, in the past, deliveries of over 20,000 rolls of toilette paper and 190,000 chocolate bars.”
Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson says the pandemic has created a lot of economic and social challenges.
“Fortunately we have had some funding from the province that we’ve been given to be able to use to address some of these social issues.”
While waiting to get the funding in place, the United Way hasn’t been waiting to find a suitable location.
Varma says she thinks they’ve found the right place in a central location in the city of Kingston.
“We have landed on a place that we think is suitable, we’re just in that negotiations stage to make sure that we get the perfect spot for this,” said Varma.
If those negotiations and the funding both come into place, Varma says they are aiming to have the warehouse operational this fall.