BAY ST LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - Bill Blaisdell is the executive director of the Hancock County food pantry. He says he can hardly wait to begin operations in the spacious new building.
Blaisdell says, "The building is designed to be able to process the food, package the food and get it out to our clients much more efficiently than we could do in the past."
Hurricane Katrina destroyed the original food pantry. Since then, the pantry has operated out of a temporary building in Waveland.
"It's been a nice facility, but it isn't in an ideal location. It's been a lot of traffic problems. It's in a residential area," says Blaisdell. "There is inadequate parking. It's difficult to get in and out to bring the food in, and it wasn't a long term solution anyway."
Blaisdell says the new building was designed specifically to be a food pantry, and the building has everything they need. A waiting room, an office to in-take clients, a giant warehouse to store and process food and an existing counter.
Blaisdell says, "We've got separate parking for our own people. We've got seven or eight volunteers that need to park somewhere. We've got, I just counted them roughly, 20 parking spaces in front of the building for our clients."
Blaisdell says the new building could not have come at a better time. As the economy continues to weaken, Blaisdell says the need for the pantry's services increases.
"With the economy the way it is, the need is here. We're seeing around 550 families a month come through here. We have over the past several months, and now with more viability, we expect that to go up so the need is great," Blaisdell sasy. "There is a financial challenge that we're looking at. If you look at the gap between the local contributions which have gone up actually, interestly enough are back up to where they were in 2004 but the need has jump up way beyond that."
Blaisdell says he's confident that will be worked out and thankful to the Bucks-Mont Pennsylvania group that filled the Pantry's biggest need.