AUGUSTA — Those waiting for the debut of the Augusta Food Bank’s new home will have to wait a little longer.

A delay in getting the internet and phone service up and running has delayed staff training on the new telephone system and pushed off the expected move-in date by about two weeks.

Executive Director Alan Smith said the new facility on Mount Vernon Avenue also must undergo an inspection by the Good Shepherd Food Bank to ensure that it meets standards set by the statewide organization.

Then, he said, “come hell or high water,” the food bank will relocate from its current facility at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church’s parish hall on Summer Street to the new location.

“People can come to the church right up until the 14th,” Smith said. “We don’t distribute on Fridays anyway. We’ll open on the 18th in the new building.”

Smith said he’s not sure whether volunteers will be needed to make the shift, but anyone interested in helping can let the food bank staff know they are available to help and where they can be called if that’s the case.

Having the phone and internet in place is critical for the operation of the food bank, Smith said because of the new process that has been put in place.

“Our clients are extremely excited about it. They can call ahead and make appointments, and the wait time will be so minimal,” he said. “Now, we would have people show up at 12:30 and not get out until 2:30.”

For more than three decades, the Augusta Food Bank has been serving people in Augusta and Manchester. It currently serves more than 1,000 people in 400 households.

Nearly a year and a half ago, St. Mark’s officials said the church and related church-owned properties were going to be listed for sale. That meant the food bank, a warming shelter and a pantry that provides toiletries to the needy would have to find new homes.

While the food bank will move later this month, the Augusta Community Warming Center, Addie’s Attic Everyday Basics Essentials Pantry have not yet found new homes and will continue to operate out of the church property for now.

Augusta businessman Norman Pomerleau donated the property at 161 Mount Vernon Ave. to the food bank in March 2016, and the food bank launched fundraising campaign to raise the funds needed to build the 4,200-square-foot facility that would house a warehouse and distribution facility as well as offices.

By June, $515,000 of the $675,000 needed for the project had been raised, and a groundbreaking was scheduled. Food bank officials were able to secure a temporary construction loan from the Genesis Fund even before fundraising was completed.

On Sunday, Daniel Wathen, president of the food bank’s board of directors and a former chief justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, said not only has the fundraising been completed, it exceeded the initial goal.

“In our original goal, we had the cost of construction, and no equipment or anything,” Wathen said. “People were very generous. Toward the end of the campaign, we indicated we needed things in addition to the building.”

In all, food bank officials have raised $735,000, which covers the additional equipment expenses, Wathen said.

Now, the food bank is waiting for its sign and a logo that are in the process of being prepared, Wathen said.

This is the second time in a month that the expected opening date has been delayed. The first time around, the severe late-October storm that knocked out power to a half-million customers across Maine was the culprit.

Once the food bank has moved to its new home, Smith said all its functions will be in one spot and there will be no more running to the warehouse on other side of town for supplies.

“The flow will be so much more efficient for our clients,” Smith said. “We’ll be able to get them in, process them and get them out through (a second) door.”

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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