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Food bank relocating, expanding

Will displace youth center, which temporarily relocates to Presbyterian house

By ELIOT SILL

Staff writer

The Marion County Food Bank will be moving into the building that currently houses the Marion youth center and provide a wider range of services, City Administrator Roger Holter said.

The food bank has been housed at Valley United Methodist Church in a small room in the building’s northwest corner. Organizers said accessibility, space, and resources were inhibiting its potential.

“The volunteers that run this have an amazing vision of what they’d like to accomplish in the future,” Holter said. He added that the timeline isn’t concrete on when all of the changes will be made. The move will happen quickly, but the change in nature of services will happen gradually.

The food bank will go under the umbrella of the Marion Advancement Campaign. MAC will also be responsible for a board of directors created to manage the food bank. MAC’s status as a nonprofit enables the bank to accept donations from corporate entities, Holter said, such as a donation of 262 pounds of food from the Wal-Mart Corporation.

The move to the youth center building will give the food bank greater storage capacity and eliminate a problem of accessibility; the entrance to the food bank in its current location requires climbing about six steps, Holter said.

He said the bank will be open more often, house more wares, especially non-food items, and eventually, Holter said, the center will provide resources such as resume preparation and health education seminars. It will be known as the Marion County Food Bank and Resource Center.

The transition comes through a collaborative effort from various community groups, including Marion Presbyterian Church, Valley United Methodist Church, Families and Communities Together, and individuals like Gene Winkler, Janet Bryant, Jan Helmer, Mayor Todd Heitschmidt, and Holter.

Principal parties involved will be meeting April 29, Holter said, to finalize the arrangements.

Bryant, who has run the food bank for 30 years since taking over for her mother, said she hopes to be on the board of directors.

She said it was decided that with the increase in operations, it would be best to expand the leadership.

“In the long run, it’ll probably be the best thing,” she said. “I don’t know if I have the sentimental value as much as my mother did. She’s the one who used to stock the shelves. As long as the food bank is going to be used and be better, it’s a good thing.”

The displaced youth center will temporarily conduct operations in a house owned by the Presbyterian church just north of the church itself, until it can find a permanent home, MAC president Todd Heitschmidt said.

“We felt like we could reach more people (by putting the food bank in the youth center building), especially children,” Heitschmidt said. “Nutritional needs are a priority over activities of the youth center at this point. We can reach more people that way.”

Some of the youth center’s amenities, such as its pool table, will remain there until the new permanent location is obtained.

Last modified April 15, 2015

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