After three years of planning and fundraising, the Food Bank of Delaware opened its doors this week to a new, state-of-the-art 80,000 square-foot facility on Lake Drive in Newark that allows the organization to better meet the growing need for emergency food services across the state.
The space is nearly double the capacity the Food Bank occupied at their former location, and every area of the operation has been improved.
Private counseling rooms and a dining cafe are just two of the many new features inside the new space. There’s even more parking — 150 additional spots.
All in, the project will carry a $15.5 million price tag. Generous supporters and the sale of the former site helped raise $13 million. But $2.5 million is still needed to complete the project.
A 10,000-square-foot multi-temperature cold storage area — 30% larger than the unit at the old facility — will help increase capacity for increased projections for fresh and perishable foods (produce, dairy, meat). A state-of-the-art training kitchen and classroom space will occupy 7,200 square feet of space and will enable the Food Bank to train an additional 145 students. The kitchen also has unoccupied space to allow for growth and continued investment. The organization also will be able to expand workforce initiatives in warehousing and agriculture.
“It’s amazing we were able to accomplish so much in our former space, which was inefficient and outdated,” said Food Bank of Delaware President Patricia Beebe. “This building will allow us to do so much more.”
The Food Bank of Delaware will continue to work with member agencies who distribute food from their own pantries, shelters or soup kitchens. But the new space now allows the Food Bank of Delaware to give food directly to members of the community. They will preemptively ask health care providers to provide screening for food insecurity.
A 3.5-acre vegetable and fruit farm offering year-round production is located just behind the facility. And a new “Discover Cafe,” a full-service cafe serving breakfast and lunch, will open at the end of the month. Chefs at the new on-site eatery expect to be kept busy. There are 5,000 workers at the industrial park, and last year there were 16,000 volunteer visitors at the Food Bank.
On Monday the Food Bank welcomed their first volunteers at the new location, who marveled at the 5,300 square-foot volunteer room — so big it required 60 gallons of yellow wall paint. Bank of America employees served as the first official volunteer group in the new Bank of America volunteer room — the bank donated $300,000 toward the new space. The volunteers spent the morning stocking bags with kid-friendly, healthy items like pop-top cans, shelf-stable milk, cereal and other snacks for the Backpack Program. Each week more than 5,000 children receive a bag full of weekend food.
Bank of America’s Chip Rossi says the bank was honored to be the first group to take part in an essential element of the Food Bank’s operations. “We share their enthusiasm for strengthening our community and supporting local economic development. Volunteering at the Food Bank of Delaware is one of our employees’ favorite ways to give back to the community.”