Lakeside Food Bank Readies for Big Move

By Beacon Staff

LAKESIDE – There are a lot of reasons why Leslie Knuth is excited for the West Shore Food Bank’s move into a new building this summer, but one stands above the rest.

“We’re going to have straight walls,” Knuth, the food bank’s director, said. “And everyone laughs at me when I say it, but you try doing inventory with these walls!”

Since 1997, the West Shore Food Bank has been housed in a small quonset hut with curved walls and about 990 square feet of space to store food and serve the 25 to 30 families who rely on it to eat. In late June the operation will move across U.S. Highway 93 to a 3,000-square-foot facility that is now under construction.

Knuth, a food bank volunteer since it was first established in Lakeside, said finding a new building has been a goal for more than five years and the current structure would not have met building codes in another year. The old building was also too small for the growing operation, she said, which moves more than 5,000 pounds of food every month, helping families all the way from Kalispell to Dayton. There’s so much food that stacks of tomato sauce cans were packed on the floor, which doesn’t meet food bank standards.

“We need to have it four to six inches off the floor,” she said. “But I’ll have it. I’ll have in six weeks.”

The new facility will open on July 1 and Knuth said it would not have been possible without generous financial and material donations from the public and local businesses, including Plum Creek, Knife River Corporation, Ferguson Enterprises, Western Building Center, Sliters Ace Lumber and Building Supply, Sherwin-Williams and contractor Lakeside Building and Design. Yet the largest donation came from an anonymous citizen who provided the land on which the new facility sits. Knuth doesn’t even know the identity of the donor.

The new building comes at a perfect time. During the last few years, Knuth said the number of people who use the food bank has increased by 40 percent.

“My contractor jokes that he’s going to give me a map and a pair of roller skates so I don’t get lost” in the new building, she said.

Knuth said the new facility was expected to cost about $260,000 but it looks like it may come in below that. There is still more work to be done, however, and the food bank will be hosting a fundraiser at Tamarack Brewing Co. on Wednesday, May 23 and a portion of all the beer purchased that night will go to the building fund.

“Looking out the door and knowing we’ll be in there in a few weeks, it’s just unbelievable,” she said.

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