Hoping to secure a permanent home, the Ashland Emergency Food Bank has launched a $600,000 campaign to buy the building it rents near the south Ashland interchange.
The modern, well-lit building, a former home to KFC and A&W, comes with big windows, a freezer and refrigerators, a loading dock and a garden space — and is owned by People's Bank of Commerce, which got it in foreclosure.
"This is the perfect spot. We never want to move again or experience the Ashland housing market again," says AEFB Manager Pam Marsh. "If we can't buy it, well, the bank doesn't want to be a landlord. It's a must-do for us and for our longevity as a food bank."
The campaign is already 30 percent of its way to the goal, which includes $475,000 for the building and $125,000 for maintenance and reserves. The target date is in August, which is when the food bank's lease expires.
The campaign has received $87,000 from the city's Community Development Block Grant funds and plans to seek money from foundations, online crowd-funding and community donors.
Begun by area faith organizations 41 years ago, the food bank is an independent nonprofit that operates with volunteers from churches, synagogues and the community. Marsh, also a city councilor, is the only employee, and she is less than full time.
The campaign will have its public kickoff from 3 to 5 p.m., Sunday, March 10, with an open house and pie social, which will include music, tours and, of course, pie. The food bank is at 560 Clover Lane.
The nonprofit had rented spaces previously on Second Street and on Ashland Street near the railroad overpass, but it was required to leave both spots. It landed on Clover Lane a year-and-a-half ago.
The money for improvements will go for better lighting, raised garden beds and other needs, says Marsh.
The food bank has a budget of $115,000 and operates mainly with volunteers, most of them from faith organizations. It now pays $600 a month for rent.
Some 20 percent of its clients are homeless and 40 percent are children. The bulk are working people who have lost jobs or need help getting through the month, she notes. About 500 families in Ashland and Talent get a food box once a month, enough for three meals a day for three days.
Though not centrally located, the new space has turned out to be ideal because the asking price is "very reasonable," much less than the fast-food franchisees paid, she says, and it is on the bus route.
"It is a very welcoming space," she says. "People don't feel embarrassed to come in here. And we have room to expand."
Donations may be sent to AEFB, PO Box 3578, Ashland OR 97520. Credit card donations can be made at www.ashlandemergencyfoodbank.org
John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.