Williamston food bank construction reaches completion

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Williamston’s Darrel Ezmerlian spends his days on School Street working on the new Harold Larson Food Bank for his community. The construction process will soon wrap up, all the major elements taken care of since the project broke ground last October.

Within the confines of the dusty concrete floors and the freshly painted walls, Ezmerlian calls himself, “a laborer, an overseer” on the food bank project, which was started by his son and daughter-in-law, Tim and Tracie Baise. The Baise’s bought the land where the food bank is being built. Ezmerlian’s been working to see that every detail– from the white painted window sills to the positioning of the shelves– is completed properly.

“We’re putting in the freezers and refrigerators right now, and they’re ginormous,” Ezermlian said. “The next step will be moving in shelving, and then the food. In the transition of that, the parking and landscaping is next. All the lights and electrical are in.”

The current Williamston food bank, which is celebrating its 65th year serving the community, is located in the basement of the Commons, the old Williamston High School. The location for the new food bank is directly across the street from the Commons, so it’s not moving far.

Space for the food bank in the Commons is limited. The refrigerators are the standard home kitchen size; not nearly large enough to accomodate all the food.

Someone in the Williamston community anonymously donated a check specifically to help pay for bigger freezers and refrigerators.

Access is another issue with the food bank.

According to the food bank’s website, www.williamstonfoodbank.org, it’s only open the last week of the month. On Monday and Tuesday, families in need can place food orders via phone or email. Then, on Friday and Saturday morning, the families may go to the food bank and pick up their orders.

“Right now, they call us on Monday and Tuesday, and they come in on anytime on Friday or Saturday morning- at no specific appointment time,” said Harold Larson Food Bank Director Jill Cutshaw. “At the new building, because we’re going to be taking people through with a shopping cart, and they’ll be shopping at each station, we’re going to have appointments.”

The main reason for building a new food bank is the size, and to reach more people. The current food bank is only for those who live in the Williamston community.

“Our numbers are going back up. This last weekend, we had almost 80 families,” Cutshaw said. “We were down around 70-72, and now we see we’re going back up.”

A newer, bigger food bank will allow for more room to feed more people in need. Anyone can drop off both food and clothing, as the new food bank will boast a store for patrons to shop for clothes.

“It’s going to be open to anyone in need from anywhere, that’s why it’s bigger. Over there [in the Commons], it was so small. They had it only confined to Williamston,” Ezmerlian said. “We’re opening it up to everybody. Anybody in need can get in contact with one of the ladies who works here, and we can get them taken care of.”

The website states that, “the Williamston Food Bank has grown from serving 25-30 families each month to over 100” within the last five years. Ezmerlian is optimistic that the food bank will reach even more families now that it can serve beyond those in the Williamston community.

“Feeding America has asked us all, all the food banks in the country, to do two things: double the number of people coming to visit you, double the number of food you give,” Cutshaw said. “We already have a reputation of giving more than most. That is because the people in this community are so generous, we have never had to officially fundraise. “

For more information on food bank donations, or for additional resources, check out the food bank’s website.

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