Work progressing on St. Joseph’s food bank

Contractor has donated his time to help bring project to life

Local contractor Wentworth Bjarnason has volunteered his time to oversee construction of St. Joseph Catholic Church’s food bank.

Local contractor Wentworth Bjarnason has volunteered his time to oversee construction of St. Joseph Catholic Church’s food bank.

Ground has broken, and work has been progressing on the new food bank building at St. Joseph’s Church.

According to Mission accountant Ron Leger, one of the main project organizers, there is approximately $156,000 left to raise — already $436,000 has been received in cash and in-kind donations.

One of the biggest helps so far has been the efforts of contractor Wentworth Bjarnason.

“He is the largest contributor besides the Catholic church,” said Leger.

Bjarnason is an Agassiz resident, but St. Joseph’s was his grandmother’s church.

“After the phone call [from Leger], I jumped right in. It’s a good thing for the town. You never know when people are going to have a down time,” he explained. “[The food bank] provides an extra safety net.”

Bjarnason also put out a challenge to other local contractors to donate as much as they’re able to bring this project to fruition.

St. Joseph’s Church has operated a food bank out of the basement of the Seventh Avenue church for about 15 years, but demand has grown to the point where the food bank needs a free standing building of its own.

The structure will be a two-storey building, designed to look like a small church, with 1,860 square feet on each floor.

The new building will have an overhang in the front, to shelter the crowds that form. There will be a loading dock with a pallet jack and a conveyer belt system to move the food indoors, where it is sorted. That will make life a lot easier for the food bank workers.

There will be a pickup area with shelving that will also make pickup faster for food bank patrons.

Food bank coordinator Patrick Carey said it started “very small and very simple,” with about 30 clients per month.

These days, they serve 10 times that number. They are open two days a month for distribution, but volunteers are there working seven days a week to prepare for those days.