After a year of construction, GHP FISH Food Bank is set to open

Construction has begun on the new Gig Harbor Peninsula Food Bank building at 4303 Burnham Dr. In November. The new facility is scheduled to officially open its doors on Wednesday, July 13.

Volunteers from the community helped move everything from the old building to the new one, which is only a few hundred meters away.

This will be the first time the public has seen the completed project since a virtual progression round in April.

The public is invited to celebrate the grand opening with GHP FISH Food and Community Services Bank cutting the ribbon at 4 p.m. Tuesday, July 12. After the ribbon cutting ceremony, the audience will receive a tour of the new building.

The total cost of the project was less than the $8 million they had expected.

The city gave the food bank $500,000. The food bank GHP FISH raised the remaining funds with community assistance to cover the cost of construction, which amounted to approximately $3 million, site work, the licensing process, furniture, and an endowment guarantee fund to keep the facility operating in the years until they come, among other costs.

“We were able to come under budget largely because of the incredible Washington Patriots Construction, which did everything they could to cut costs including advance planning by procuring materials before timber prices spiked,” said Ron Quinn, President of the Food Bank. GHP FISH, for The Gateway, we haven’t been exposed to all the huge costs that the pandemic has caused.

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Volunteer Thad Frampton hands Sergio Andrade a box of diapers to be stacked at the new FISH Food Bank facility in Gig Harbor on Friday, July 8, 2022. The new building provides a larger clothing store section, private rooms for financial advice, a boardroom allowing the board of directors to meet, and additional offices for staff. Claire Grant cgrant@thenewstribune.com

Quinn said meeting with the builder and project contractors on a weekly basis helped keep construction moving. The building opens its doors about a year after it was opened.

We started 46 years ago with no idea what the future holds. “We now have a building that offers maximum flexibility, and that improves the way we do things,” Quinn said.

The new building offers larger sections and new additions that were not in the old building.

There is a larger section for the clothing store, private rooms for financial advice, a meeting room that allows the board to meet, and additional offices for the staff.

The old building had only one office for storage and storage needs.

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Rich Peterson, volunteer with the FISH Food Bank, helps evacuate the old building and introduce it to their new facility on Friday, July 8, 2022. The new facility is scheduled to officially open its doors on Wednesday, July 13. Claire Grant cgrant@thenewstribune.com

A food bank shopping experience that was suspended during the pandemic is back for visitors. They’ll be able to grab a shopping cart and take rounds of the grocery store section to pick out the items their family needs. It will be the first time since the pandemic began that shoppers will be able to browse on their own. For the past two years, volunteers at the food bank have been packing whatever visitors want in bags to take home.

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The old food bank site in Gig Harbor is moving a few hundred meters to its new location. Since COVID, people haven’t been able to come and shop themselves, so the new site is also a comeback for in-person shopping. Claire Grant cgrant@thenewstribune.com

Quinn said returning in person allows visitors and volunteers to share stories, connect and socialize.

Land lease for $1 per year

A local property owner offered to give GHP FISH a 99-year lease on the new building for $1 a year.

“A local family knew we had been looking for a piece of property for years,” Quinn said.

The building belongs to the food bank, but the land belongs to the owner.

“We want to be as beneficial to the local community as possible. Inflation has made it really difficult (for) a lot of people and we are doing everything we can to make life better for people,” Quinn said.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult for people to stay indoors, Quinn said, making food purchases the second priority. Quinn believes these trends are primarily due to the pandemic and current inflation issues.

In recent months they have seen more people come to the food bank than before. The past three months have been the biggest when it comes to visitor numbers, according to Sue Lockett-John, communications coordinator at the food bank.

Quinn said the food bank currently serves about 1,100 people per month.

“I cannot thank the community enough and hope they know this is not just here now, but for generations to come,” Quinn said of the new building.

The main leadership staff of the food bank consists of more than 20 volunteers. Most of them are retired and are now giving their time to the food bank.

“When people retire, they have all these skills and resources, and it really shows through our employees,” Jan Quinn, food bank coordinator, told The Gateway.

This story was originally published July 11, 2022 10:45 am.

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