Partners in Mission celebrate 40 years with new building announcement

Blueprints for the next Partners in Mission Food Bank location. Photo via LJI.

On Monday, Jun. 17, 2024, Partners In Mission Food Bank celebrated its 40-year anniversary in Kingston, and the celebration coincided with the announcement that the food bank is moving into a building that will expand and change how it serves its clientele. 

The food bank announced it will move into a facility more than twice the size of the one it has occupied for over 20 years, and will have better storage capacity and bring new opportunities to serve clients. The current Hickson Avenue location is 7,200 square feet, but the new building dwarfs that at 17,500 square feet. 

The new location of the Partners in Mission Food Bank (shown above with a red marker) will be within sight of its old location. Graphic via Google Maps.

Staff and volunteers at Partners in Mission were joined on Monday by local politicians, city councillors, and other Kingston residents to celebrate the anniversary and news. City Council also declared the date “Partners in Mission Food Bank day.”

The food bank purchased the new location at 4 Harvey Street — just about 400m from its current location — in April, and has been working on renovations ever since.

For the $3.3 million building purchase, the food bank used reserve funds that had been accumulated and credit for the difference. 

Executive Director Dan Irwin said it’s a much-needed upgrade, as they’re reaching their physical limit of how many people they can serve with the need being high in the community.

“Some days we get to 100 hampers a day, and that’s really close to maximum capacity in this building,” Irwin said. 

“The new place is twice the size of this, so we’re going to be able to have a larger walk-in cooler and walk-in freezer, and because it’s such a large space, we’re going to be able to have our clients do what we call a shopping model.”

While clients have previously just picked up hampers which might contain items they won’t or can’t use, this model allows them to pick the products and brands that they want. It’s a model that many food banks across Canada have been following, and Irwin said has been fairly well received where adopted as it allows for more choice among the food bank clients, and often less waste in doing so.

He said clients in Kingston wanted to see a model like this if possible, and it will generally improve the entire experience of using the services at Partners in Mission.

“Right now, we are so busy that people are lined up outside in all weather,” Irwin said.

“This will bring them inside, so they’ll have a more comfortable shopping experience… And we have surveyed our clients, and there was an indication by the majority of them that they wanted to have this type of model.”

The new building should allow Partners in Mission to serve more clients and to accept and preserve more donations, with the lack of space recently becoming a limiting factor.

Irwin said that in particular, he expects they’ll be able to accept more fresh food from grocers that are nearing the end of its life or may have some blemishes.

“We do anticipate that as we get better facilities, we’ll be able to get more fresh food donated from grocery stores,” Irwin said.

“We’re going to try and be able to do more of that in the new location. And again, with a bigger, cooler facility, we’ll be able to handle that volume much better.”

After using their reserve funds and credit to purchase the building it will move into, Partners in Mission is optimistic that the sale of their current building will provide enough to pay off the mortgage. 

The building is not yet up for sale, and won’t be until an official moving date is set, with a move expected to take place early next year.

Irwin said there is however an immediate need for the food bank as their attention turns to the remaining $1 million they need for their renovation fund, a fund for which they’re seeking donations

On Monday, Irwin said the organization wanted to use the celebration to thank the community for allowing Partners in Mission to do the work that it does. 

“We really wanted to recognize the community and say a huge thank you for supporting us all these 40 years,” he said.

“There’s been donations of food and money and time, and we’re kind of just that piece that helps bring it all together, but it’s truly neighbour helping neighbour in our organization.”

Owen Fullerton is a Kingston-based reporter with the Local Journalism Initiative (LJI). The LJI is funded by the Government of Canada.

Leave a Reply

You cannot copy content from this page, please share the link instead!