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By Cindy Brown, Boulevard Place Food Pantry Director 

In early January, the Boulevard Place Food Panty reached a six-month milestone of a top-to-bottom makeover. Our neighborhood food pantry is being expanded and renovated to improve our mission of caring for our hungry neighbors.

Our almost entirely volunteer-run food pantry relies on donations to keep the lights on and the shelves stocked, so funding for all aspects of construction is an entirely separate category. We’re so grateful to the Butler-Tarkington Neighborhood Association (BTNA) for approving our recent grant request to help cover the cost of new flooring.

As you can see with these pictures, our existing concrete floor and epoxy surface in the current space is stained, unsightly, chipped in spots and has been repaired in various places over the years with a patchwork of patterns.

The project plan is to grind off the old epoxy, repair and smooth the concrete floor and apply a new surface that will be uniform, functional and attractive. The grant funds would be used to help pay the cost of repairing and resurfacing about 1,500 square feet.

While the new flooring won’t go in until this spring, there will be no interruption in service to our clients. We’ll temporarily move our food-sorting and storage into the new part of the pantry while work gets done on the old part, including that floor!

A reworked floor isn’t exactly the most glamorous component of our renovation project, which includes:

  • Adding approximately 1,500 square feet of mainly food storage warehouse space to the west side of the building
  • Enlarging the existing client waiting room
  • Enlarging the existing client shopping area
  • Adding space for cooking/nutrition demonstrations

But a new floor is part of the overarching goal of our pantry: to give clients a place to shop with dignity. Although we have been operating since April 2020 as a pre-packaged drive-through service due to COVID-19, we expect to one day return to an in-person experience. That new floor is just as critical as the refurbished roof and remade walls.

A  Longtime Community Fixture

You might have noticed the construction includes the addition in the back as well as the renovation of the original building. Longtime neighborhood residents have told us it was first used in the 1930s as a Standard Service (automobiles) filling station—in fact, the letters are faded but still visible! It housed a variety of retail and offices until Boulevard Place purchased it in 2012 and converted it into a grocery-store-style pantry.

If you’d like to take a look inside, stop by. The best time to visit is on Tuesday mornings before 11 a.m. And donations of perishables are always welcome. They go from your pantry to our clients’ homes very quickly and are appreciated!

Support from Community Neighbors
The BTNA, under the leadership of President Bryan Bradford, has been a wonderful ally toward the betterment of the food pantry. The $2,500 for floor resurfacing is just the most recent renovation-related contribution. We also received a grant in 2019 that will go toward the costs of a commercial exterior overhead garage door and two exterior steel entry doors. Even before renovation was underway, BTNA awarded us $2,700 toward the purchase of a glass door upright commercial reach-in freezer.

The generosity of BTNA brings legitimacy to our effort and helps us gain standing with other organizations. For example, Meridian Street United Methodist Church’s Hansman Fund helped us refurbish attic walls and the roof. Common Ground Christian Church (Midtown) donated the funds to pay for three critical commercial freezer chests that allowed us to continue providing cold food while our walk-in freezer/refrigerator is disassembled. And a wonderful neighborhood business, Hoagies and Hops, has let Boulevard Place Food Pantry volunteers use their basement freezer for temporary storage when necessary for a day or two at a time.

All of them see us as a vital part of Butler-Tarkington. We look forward to being a community pillar now and through the future.