Bridgeport Food Bank faces imminent closure

New location urgently needed

The Bridgeport Foursquare Church has served the community as the home for the Bridgeport Food Bank for more than 25 years. Photos by Mike Maltais

Bridgeport Community Church sign.

 

BRIDGEPORT – Short of a savior with a new place to relocate, the Bridgeport Food Bank, that has been supplying food to needy families for more than 25 years, will close its doors following its final food distribution day on Thursday, Sept. 28.

The closure will leave some 150 to 200 people, who have depended upon the food bank’s twice monthly distributions, without a critical community resource.

Director Rayna Skiff said the food bank, located in the Bridgeport Foursquare Church building at 1300 Foster Avenue, has been looking for another site on short notice and with no success.

“We need a sponsor and a building that has rent and utilities provided because we are nonprofit,” Skiff said.

The Foursquare Church closed a few months ago when its pastor relocated to another community. Owing to a miscommunication between the church’s associate supervisor and district administrator, Skiff believed the food bank could continue to operate out of the church building while the search continued for a replacement pastor.

Unbeknownst to Skiff, however, the pastor had sent a letter to the church’s district administrator advising him that the food bank would vacate the premises by June 30. It wasn’t until Skiff recently spoke with the administrator that she learned of his surprise that the food bank was still occupying the building.

“He didn’t realize I was still there,” said Skiff. “The best he could do was allow us 30 days to vacate the premises.”

The administrator told Skiff the food bank could remain in the church if it establishes its own entity, which would require setting up a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation with EIN number and insurance. Since the food bank has been operating under the church’s EIN and insurance, it cannot afford the costs associated with becoming an independent organization.

The church will remain closed until another pastor can be recruited, a process that could take a year or more. In the meantime, the food bank is itself in need of rescue.

Bridgeport Mayor Janet Conklin said she has exhausted every lead to find a new home for the food bank. Since many of its patrons lack transportation, a potential location, miles from downtown, is not a feasible fit.

To comply with the looming deadline to vacate the church building, Skiff has donated the food bank’s freezers to the school district and has only kept portable shelving that can be dismantled and moved.

In the absence of a groundswell of community support and a new location willing to take the organization under its wing, the Bridgeport Food Bank will distribute its last donations to its patrons next Thursday, Sept. 28.

Parties interested in helping the Bridgeport Food Bank find new quarters can contact Skiff at 509-449-8189.

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