Posted by Dave Panabaker on Mar 18, 2019
The Rotary Club welcomed Celina Symmonds, Executive Director of the MH Food Bank to our meeting today.  Celina is well known in the community as a former member of City Council, a current member of the Public School Board and her work at the Food Bank.
Celina began her talk by reviewing some of the history of the Food Bank, which started in 1982 as a method of enuring food security for those who were hard hit by the economic downturn occurring at that time.  They were not expected to last many years, but are still an unfortunately thriving part of our social security net.  The organization has a "Food First" Plan, and have been working with families to provide about 12 weeks of education, to help impress on them the importance of making food a priority.  This has been remarkable successful, with many of the program graduates moving beyond needing the Food Bank, and helping lift them out of poverty.
This work has led the organization to propose a Community Food & Wellness Center, with access to a meal with friends, a teaching kitchen for food safety and serving.  As well, the facility would provide contact access for other social service groups, including medical and dental care, as well as contact with organizations like Phoenix Safe house for those driven to the food bank by domestic violence.  Celina played an impactful video of the food bank in action.  She also provided some facts and figures on this proposed 35,000 sq ft building, at a cost of $8.5 Million.  Currently MHSD # 76 has come on board as a major partner and she spoke about opportunities for service clubs to provide facilities or help access grants.
A number of questions were asked and answered, and she was thanked by Wayne Chesley with a token of our appreciation.