Regina meals financial institution’s new location welcomed as enlargement strikes forward

The Regina Food Bank’s plan to create a new food hub in downtown Regina is set to go ahead after the organization’s board of directors approved the purchase of a building on Tuesday. 

The food bank plans to purchase the former SLGA store located at 1881 Broad Street from the provincial government for $750,000, according to a cabinet publication. 

Although planning for the facility remains in its initial stages, food bank CEO John Bailey said he’s excited for the future. 

“The bones and the structure of the space are fantastic,” Bailey told CBC News in a recent interview.

There’s a lot of work ahead, but Bailey said the food bank has already selected a consortium of companies for construction and design.

Once the deal goes through, the organization will be able to get a better idea of what needs to be done and how long it might take.

Building deeper connections

The new downtown location will not mean an end to the food bank’s existing services at its location on Winnipeg Street, Bailey said.

Instead, it will allow the organization to build deeper connections with other not-for-profits in the downtown area.

Bailey said the organization wanted the new location to be in the city’s core.

“One of our selection criteria is how can we actually integrate this into the community, because we really believe that that we have a defined role in sort of helping support folks who are facing food insecurity,” said Bailey.

The planned food hub is already being welcomed by other organizations dedicated to ending food insecurity and homelessness.

When it opens, the new facility will only be a few blocks away from Carmichael Outreach.

“We’re in an area that really deals with a lot of food insecurity,” said Amanda Benesh, Carmichael’s development co-ordinator, on Tuesday.

“[The food hub] will mean being able to feed their family and children, maybe relying a little less on the community fridges — which are a wonderful addition to our neighbourhoods, but the food bank really does provide a different level of food security.”

What is a food hub? 

The hub is meant to be different from the food bank’s existing services.

The facility will draw inspiration from grocery stores and community centres. The goal is to let users pick and choose what food products they take home, rather than relying on pre-set hampers. 

“[Dignity is] a core piece of our vision for this and it’ll be the guiding principle of the design,” Bailey said. 

The Regina Food Bank has also secured a decade-long lease from the City of Regina for an empty lot located behind the former SLGA building.

The lot will allow the food bank to run a food hamper drive-thru.

“I think the food bank is actually going to provide a level of dignity that a lot of our clients, our community members, don’t feel they get,” Benesh said.

A good deal

The Regina Food Bank’s deal with the provincial government for the former SLGA location comes at a cut-rate price of $750,000. According to Colliers, the building was originally listed for $1.5 million.

In a statement, SLGA said that there was limited interest in the property at the listed price, and as a result it has remained vacant since April 2018.

The food bank will pay $550,000 to close the deal and then cover the final $200,000 broken into annual instalments until 2029.

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