/New food hub nourishing community
Barry Robb of the Arcadia Masonic Lodge addresses the crowd at the opening ceremony for the Minden Food Centre a project between the Masons and the Minden Food Bank. CHAD INGRAM Staff

New food hub nourishing community

By Chad Ingram

A crowd of about 100 assembled outside the Minden Food Centre on Newcastle Street for an official opening celebration Oct. 3.

The centre which is a project between the Minden Food Bank and the Arcadia Masonic Lodge has been operating for a number of months.

The 5000-square foot facility not only serves as the quarters for the Minden Food Bank it is a food hub where food can be stored before it is shipped to other food banks. It also houses a community kitchen where cooking classes are given and frozen meals are prepared by volunteers.

Mason Barry Robb said the project was a huge accomplishment for a rural lodge.

“It was an idea conceived because of both the needs of the food bank and the masonic hall” Robb said crediting Steve Berry and past food bank board chairwoman Barbara Walford-Davis for their vision in bringing the project to fruition.

The food bank was looking for new home with more space and the Masons needed to do some work on their building.

“The foundation on our lodge was beginning to fail” said Mason Gareth Kellet explaining the building was constructed in 1937. “We wondered could the two parties come together.”

The project was made possible through a $150000 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation and a $150000 loan from the Haliburton County Development Corporation.

“It was a special opportunity to get involved with a not-for-profit” HCDC manager Andy Campbell told the crowd.

Along with the loan HCDC also provided a $20000 grant to purchase equipment.

“When I look around at this building I’m just so delighted to see the investment we’ve made” said Jack Brezina of the Ontario Trillium Foundation. “I watched that food bank move from place to place.”

Brezina who owned and published the Minden Times for more than 20 years said it was nice to see the food bank find such a permanent home.

The Minden Food Bank started out as cupboard for those who might need it at St. Paul’s Anglican Church in 1993.

“It quickly became clear this was not big enough for the growing need” said food bank manager Joanne Barnes explaining that food storage was then moved to lower floor of the church essentially constituting the beginning of the food bank.

From there it would move into the Valu-Mart plaza and then to the old IGA building which no longer exists and then into the plaza along Bobcaygeon Road where Remedy pharmacy is located.

“This is another example of our community that we do things collaboratively” said Minden Hills Reeve Brent Devolin. “It’s fortunate that we have a tradition of doing this.”

Minden Hills gave $10000 to the project.

MPP Laurie Scott was also in attendance giving congratulations and  applauding Haliburton County for being a community that looks after its own.

Robb also thanked the many volunteers and contractors who made the project possible.
The Arcadia Masonic Lodge has been operating in Minden since 1896.