GRANGEVILLE – In 2007, Carlene Whitesell had a vision for a community food bank that was open more than once a month.
In 2012, that dream was realized when Camas Prairie Food Bank (CPFB) opened at 411 East North Street in a home on four city lots.
“Carlene did a great job as manager until retiring last year,” said Ken Lefsaker, who took over as director of CPFB.
Now, the food bank is looking to build a new facility to replace its 80-plus-year-old house. The mortgage was paid off in April of this year.
“We have done a lot to keep this house in working order – electrical, plumbing, roofing,” Lefsaker explained. “But with something this old, there is only so much you can do.”
A new building on the lots is in the planning stages and will include 5,900 square feet of space – one-quarter for distribution, office and rest rooms, and the other three-quarters for warehouse space and cold storage. This will include a 12-by-12 walk-in cooler and freezer.
“We have about $85,000 in the bank – thanks to the scrimping and saving of Carlene, the board and volunteers,” Lefsaker said.
The remainder is coming in through grants, and, hopefully, continued community donations.
The new building will be ADA accessible, as well as provide more privacy for clients.
CPFB board president and volunteer, Darlane Lovell, said the food bank is open for distribution two days per week and serves up to 500 people per month.
CPFB rents a U-Haul and drives to Lewiston monthly where food is purchased and picked up from the Idaho Food Bank. In addition, commodities are picked up.
“No one is turned away from the food bank,” Lovell explained. “For commodities, there are some income guidelines.”
When clients come into the food bank for the first time, they need to fill out a short form. Their name is kept on file for tracking and number reporting purposes; however, there is not a need to fill out any further paperwork.
The food bank receives a large amount of food and monetary donations from local individuals, churches, schools and organizations, as well.
“We have an extremely generous community,” Lovell and Lefsaker agreed.
Many local businesses have been instrumental in CPFB’s endeavors to build and keep its current building useable, Lefsaker added. This includes, but is not limited to, Schwartz Construction, Idaho Forest Group, Grangeville Builders, Idaho Community Foundation, the Monastery of St. Gertrude, the Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation, Daeli Appliance Repair, Ken’s Heating and Air Conditioning, Les Schwab Tire Center, Stark Plumbing, Pine Tree Community Credit Union, the Grangeville Christian Church and Cash and Carry.
Plans are to break ground by spring 2020; in the meantime, it’s business as usual.
“Our goal is to reach people in need, to be here for those who need the food bank service and need a friend,” Lefsaker said. “We want to continue to be good, transparent stewards of what is donated.”