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Alex Tardif is replacing Casey Wheeler as executive director of the St. Helens-based food bank.

PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - Alex Tardif attends a meeting as Columbia County Commissioner, a position he held from 2017 through 2020.Alex Tardif, a former Columbia County commissioner, has started a new position as executive director of the Columbia Pacific Food Bank.

Tardif joins the food bank after a year as the finance director of the Scappoose Fire District.

The food bank's outgoing executive director, Casey Wheeler, is retiring at the end of March, allowing three months so Tardif can have a smoother transition into the role.

Tardif served one term on the Columbia County commission, which he chaired in 2020, his last year on the board.

Remodeling is still ongoing to prepare the food bank's new main building, in the former Feed & Seed on Columbia Boulevard in St. Helens, with leaders aiming for a March opening.

Tardif said the position with the food bank appealed to him "really because it's feeding people, and what better way to serve your community than to feed people?"

"I couldn't think of a better place to be," Tardif said, three days into the job. "Food and shelter are two basic necessities, and if those can't be met, we live in a fight-or-flight mode."

Wheeler has worked for the food bank for eight years.

"When the board hired me eight years ago, the whole thrust initially was to get a better location, more space — which we needed — (and) be able to offer more services," Wheeler said in September 2021. "I've accomplished what I set out to do."COURTESY - A rendering shows the new home of the Columbia Pacific Food Bank in St. Helens.

Wheeler "has put in a lot of time, effort, and has really created a strong, stable foundation for the food bank," Tardif said.

Carol Ford, chair of the food bank's board, said that under Wheeler's leadership, the food bank has worked over the year "to get into a good financial situation."

Tardif's background in finance is one asset, but Ford said the board was looking for "someone who was able and willing to do everything," from being a public spokesperson to moving boxes in the warehouse.

"We are so blessed with the community that is so supportive of the food bank," Ford said. "We needed somebody who had good relationships and understanding of working with the community."PMG PHOTO: SCOTT KEITH - Casey Wheeler, executive director of the Columbia Pacific Food Bank, stands in front of the food bank's main location on Milton Way in St. Helens.

"We've got a little bit of transition time," Ford said.

With Wheeler and Tardif, Ford added, "We've got two great heads now getting into the building."

Tardif served on the food bank's board of directors but sat out the hiring process, which the board runs, and then resigned, since nonprofits typically do not have employees serve as board members.

That leaves a position on the board open. Ford said anyone interested in filling the open seat should contact Wheeler or Tardif at the food bank.


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