The Nicola Valley and District Food Bank is one step closer to establishing a new home in Merritt’s downtown core.

The food bank’s board of directors recently approved the acquisition of 1898 Blair St., formerly High Mountain Ventures, with plans now underway to build a new food bank location just down the road from its current location.

With the sale now final, Derland Hewton, the food bank’s general manager, said the focus in now on raising support and funds toward construction of the new building.

“It’s going to take some time, but hopefully we can get some good grants coming in, so that it’s sooner rather than later,” said Hewton. “It’s very needed here in our community, so I think we’re going to have great support.”

To aid in fundraising efforts, the food bank is relaunching its capital campaign, which, alongside potential grant funding, will enable the vital community service to design and construct a building that meets its dynamic needs. The food bank provides supports to nearly 1,000 local individuals and families on a monthly basis. 

Hewton said with flooding and fires becoming the norm, the food bank is focused on supporting evacuees and neighbouring communities, and would have an increased capacity to do so in a new building. Hewton sees an opportunity to expand not only the food bank’s physical foot print, but its programming and supports as well.

“We want to be an education centre, whether it be for budgeting, or learning how to can, we want to have a food safe kitchen,” note Hewton. “In times of need, like with the evacuees, we want to be able to have the space and be able to help other communities if they’re evacuated.”

The addition of a new facility will also increase storage capacity, and remove the food bank from its smaller location downtown.

While the sale of the property has gone through, and a building committee has been established to begin the process of designing a building, monetary donations and grant funding towards the capital campaign is key to ensuring the project moves forward. The food bank’s operating costs continue to increase with the cost of living. 

“I just went and wrote a cheque for over $11,000 for food this week, and that’s just supporting what we have coming in right now,” explained Hewton. “It’s just going to get worse, so we need finances for every aspect of the food bank.”