More than 150 community dignitaries and supporters gathered this morning at 222 Lake Drive in Newark to officially break ground on the Food Bank of Delaware’s $10.5 million construction retrofit project.
The Food Bank of Delaware acquired the new 80,000-square-foot facility in early July. 39,496-square-feet of the current warehouse will be converted, and plans call for the construction of two culinary kitchens, classroom space for expanded workforce development training in warehousing and agriculture, a clean room to repurpose produce and bulk food donations, a volunteer room that is double the size of the volunteer room at the Food Bank’s current facility at 14 Garfield Way, a full-service bistro to provide on-the-job training for culinary students, a community client-choice food pantry, office space and more.
The exterior of the facility will be converted to an agricultural destination with gardens, high tunnels for off-season growing, fruit trees, a walking trail, an outdoor seating area for the bistro and more.
“This is an exciting day for not just the Food Bank of Delaware, but our entire state,” said Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO Patricia Beebe. “The Food Bank of Delaware is a critical lifeline for thousands of people in our state. While we remain focused on providing emergency food assistance, this expansion is more than that. This expansion symbolizes a bold future for our state. Getting people to work is how we plan to put ourselves out of a business, and this new facility will be a workforce development hub for our state’s underserved. We can’t do this project alone though. The support of our community is needed now more than ever to raise the money needed for this important project.”
A capital campaign committee, led by Fred Sears and Alan Levin, will work alongside Food Bank of Delaware staff to raise the needed $10.5 million.
“The Food Bank plays a critical role in our state serving underserved communities by providing access to healthy food, community services and job training to those who need it most,” said Levin and Sears in a joint statement. “It is an organization that thrives on innovation and meets challenges head on. A move which will double the Food Bank’s operational space is long overdue and will enable the organization to act on opportunities which will provide more assistance to the state’s neediest communities.”
Community dignitaries who have played an important role in helping the Food Bank achieve its mission spoke at the event.
“Jack and I are proud to support the Food Bank of Delaware and its vision of a community free of hunger,” said First Lady Carla Markell. “The Food Bank of Delaware has done so much for the state of Delaware, now it’s our turn to help the Food Bank by supporting this very important project.”
“Far too many people in our state are unsure about where they’ll get their next meal but, thankfully, organizations like the Food Bank of Delaware, with support from their partners, provide nutritious, fresh food to those in need,” said U.S. Sen. Tom Carper. “Healthy choices can be hard to access, so programs like this are a major part of a broader effort to improve the overall health of our state. With its new building, docks, refrigeration system and a kitchen, the Food Bank will be able to provide even more fresh and healthy meals to thousands of families each year.”
Projections from Feeding America indicate that the Food Bank of Delaware has the opportunity to bring in an additional eight million pounds of fresh produce from growers and four million pounds from local retailers; larger refrigeration with temperature controlled settings as a result of the expansion project will help increase capacity.
“What a wonderful time for the Food Bank of Delaware,” said U.S. Sen. Chris Coons. “This new acquisition will increase the Food Bank’s capacity to serve more Delawareans than ever before, as well as continue to harness the volunteer power of the people of Delaware. Congratulations to Food Bank CEO Pat Beebe for her bold vision for not just providing food for Delawareans but for workforce development, culinary arts and agriculture.”
The Food Bank of Delaware’s facility at 14 Garfield Way is currently up for sale. Construction at the new facility should last approximately eight months, and business will continue at 14 Garfield Way until the facility sells or construction is complete at 222 Lake Drive. To learn more about the Food Bank’s relocation project, visit www.aboldfutureforfbd.org.