Auburn Food Bank prepares to open new location

Official ribbon cutting set for March 20.

For three years, keys to the Auburn Food Bank’s future home sat idle on Executive Director Debbie Christian’s desk in the Burndale Housing Complex.

But next week’s opening of the food bank’s new digs at 2804 Auburn Way North means that finally, at last, hallelujah, the big day is at hand.

“I got the call from our contractor on Wednesday (March 9), and I just wanted to cry,” said Christian. “I asked him if I could hug him, and he said a fist bump would be okay.

“So, we’ve got the keys, we’ve got the occupancy, we’ve got everything done,” Christian added

Moving days are March 18 and March 19, with the official ribbon cutting at 10:30 a.m. March 20. There will be tours accompanied by refreshments amid the celebration to flesh out this longtime dream coming true for Auburn.

The first full work day there is on Thursday, March 21.

“We’ve thought about this for so long. It’s just been talk for many years, which isn’t saying anything bad about anyone. It was hard to have those keys sitting on my desk through COVID, and I couldn’t do one thing about it,” Christian said.

The food bank has been at 920 8th Place NE in the Burndale Housing Complex in north Auburn for many years, but is relocating because its home is in a small space, Christian said, and there is no room to grow.

What it will mean is space for Christian and her crew to work in — an expedited path from door to refrigerator and better service for the food bank’s clients, amid many other benefits.

”We have been maxed out of capacity for many, many years. This move will give us about five times as much space,” Christian said. “We get donations of food. This move gives us the capacity to receive larger donations of food. It gives us more room to serve more people.”

Once COVID hit, Christian said, “we were at a stand-still for progress as we were unable to look for grants until we knew where we were at, construction-wise.”

The big day may not have come but for the anonymous businessman who surprised Christian in November with his bolt out of the blue $800,000 donation, which allowed work to be completed and allowed the food bank to pay its contractor.

Plans show the total improved area in the former Sports Page tavern sum to 14,631 square feet, divided between 6,899 square feet for the food bank at the south end (where the tavern was) and the newly combined resource center and night shelter, with 3,741 square feet and 3,991 square feet, respectively, on the other side of the food bank’s north wall. The night shelter will accommodate 45 cots.