The Food Bank is thrilled to announce that construction will soon begin on its new facility. To mark the occasion, a groundbreaking ceremony will be held next Tuesday, June 27, 2023, at 11:00 a.m. at the project site located on the corner of West Northside Drive and Miller Street in Statesboro.
In 2021, the Food Bank faced the impending loss of its current facility, located in the former Julia P. Bryant Elementary School, when it was slated for demolition to make way for a senior apartment complex. After being put on notice, the Food Bank’s Board of Trustees embarked on a journey to secure a new facility that could adequately meet the community’s growing needs.
“Thanks to the unwavering support of the City of Statesboro and Bulloch County Board of Commissioners, the Food Bank received one million dollars of American Rescue Plan (ARPA) funds allocated by the federal government for disbursement by the City and County,” says Sheila Stewart-Leach, Food Bank Executive Director. “These funds have laid the foundation for the Food Bank’s ambitious new building project. We were able to acquire a prime, accessible location on West Northside Drive with roughly $760,000.00 remaining in the fund for the development and construction of the new facility.”
The new Food Bank facility will span 12,000 square feet and promises to be a game-changer, enabling the implementation of a wide range of impactful programs and initiatives. Some highlights of the new facility include:
- The Warehouse: With 6500 square feet, the warehouse will serve as the heart of the community pantry, providing ample space for storage, meal box preparation, and crisis management inventory. It will accommodate service for USDA programs and emergency services, with generous contributions from grocery stores, churches, individuals and purchases from Second Harvest.
- Essential Facilities: The new building will feature two walk-in freezers, two walk-in coolers, shelving for canned goods, a dry storage room, supply storage areas, a generator, showers, a washer/dryer for crisis workers, and both drive-through and walk-up windows. An office for the Pantry Manager and a workroom for volunteers will enable efficient operations.
- The Public Area: Spanning 5500 square feet, the public area will include a reception area for welcoming clients, two versatile classrooms, an enclosed courtyard, offices for client services, program coordination, marketing/development, and administration, a commercial kitchen, a dining hall with seating for up to 125 individuals, restrooms, and storage space.
The building’s planning and construction have been meticulously executed with the expertise of renowned professionals. Concept studies by four Georgia Southern University Interior Design Students provided valuable insights, and after an extensive bid process, the project was awarded to Pearce Building Systems, led by David Pearce. Additional professional consulting will come from Parker Engineering and DPR Architects, represented by Wesley Parker and Frank D’Archangelo.
The Food Bank’s New Building Fund currently stands at $905,000, thanks to generous contributions from individuals, businesses, foundations, agencies, and corporations. However, there is still a remaining funding gap of $696,000, which the Food Bank aims to bridge through an aggressive educational campaign.
“Looking ahead, the Food Bank is propelled by a sense of urgency and a profound understanding that every empty bowl signifies work yet to be done,” says Stewart-Leach. “Each contribution received for the new building fund will make a lasting impact in the fight against hunger in our community.”