Food bank not saved by funds

By Glen Seeber

Life Saver Food Bank personnel had hoped $50,000 from the state would help “save their bacon,” but the funds were crossed off the capital outlay list on Wednesday.
For Nancy Taylor, executive director of the food bank, it was an opportunity to say “cheese” and put on a happy face — but one could tell there were tears behind the smile.
“This means instead of building a complete building, we will be able to put up only a portion of the building,” she said. “Warehousing is the most critical part of our program, but we will have to build it with no office space and no classroom space.”
The food bank was to have a brand new facility, complete with dry goods warehouse, a walk-in refrigerated unit, offices and other needed space. On top of the $50,000 shortfall in state funding, all the bids for the facility’s construction opened Thursday were much higher than the money on hand.
“Steel prices have increased by a huge amount,” Taylor said. “The bidders were unable to bid the job for the money we have.”
“Even with the $50,000 in the pot, it would not have been enough,” said Paul C. Reed, architect.
“A large majority of the food is dry goods, but they do receive a lot of fruit and vegetables,” Reed said “There’s stuff that needs to be refrigerated or frozen.”
Without the $50,000, he said, the money just isn’t there for the walk-in cooler.
About one-third of the structure was to contain office space — that will now have to be excluded. The other two-thirds was to contain the warehouse, “the critical part of the project where food will be stored,” Reed said.
“We’re looking at rebidding the project and just getting the warehouse. They’ll have to rent a trailer or something to provide office space,” he said.
“We’ve been working on this for five years now, a little at a time,” Taylor said. “We’d hoped the racking for the warehouse would be three-tier racks, and heavy-duty overhead doors. All of that will have to be put on hold.”
Life Saver Food Bank still will be getting some state funding. A separate financing item, for $20,000, escaped the governor’s line-item veto pen.
Taylor said of the funding cut, “I am horribly disappointed, but at the same time I understand the many constraints on funding. We’re feeding hungry people, but we need the new cheese plant (which is receiving a large share of state funding), so I’d rather it be (cut from) the food bank than from economic development.
“That’s a simplified version of the whole overview, but that’s how we have to look at it,” she said.
Among other items cut from state capital outlays was $250,000 to renovate a facility for the adult detention center in Curry County. The director could not be reached Thursday evening for comment.