Community Editor's Picks

Health District teams with North County Food Bank in Wheeler

Nehalem Bay Health District president Marc C. Johnson and North County Food Bank President Tom Ayres review preliminary plans for the new Food Bank building in Wheeler, Oregon. – Courtesy photo

The Nehalem Bay Health District and the North County Food Bank have jointly agreed to begin negotiations leading to a long-term ground lease agreement for a new Food Bank building on the District’s campus in Wheeler, Oregon.

For twenty-five years the Food Bank has occupied space in the old hospital building in Wheeler, where they served more than 600 adults and more than 250 children in 2018. The Food Bank operates entirely with volunteers and depends upon monetary and food donations. The Food Bank also distributes free clothing and offers free use of sewing machines and sewing instruction.

In its recently completed Strategic Plan the Health District reaffirmed its commitment to continuing collaboration with the Food Bank and the District’s board has indicated that food security for our community is a vital public health and wellness issue.

The District’s planning and facility review conducted over the past year has also determined that the old hospital building has reached the end of its useful life. At the same time, the board of the District has committed to no action that will disrupt the ongoing operations of the Food Bank. To that end the two organizations developed a Memorandum of Understanding to guide the development of a new Food Bank building that would be located on the District’s campus in Wheeler. Negotiations leading to a long-term ground lease will be the next step in that process.

Food Bank leaders believe that new building design, permitting and additional fundraising will take about a year with construction requiring an additional year.

The District and the Food Bank have committed to developing an environmentally sustainable building. The new building will include a commercial kitchen. It will also be designed to provide emergency shelter and food supply and to serve as a community gathering location in the event of a natural disaster.