Business leaders broke ground yesterday on a new facility with a simple goal: increase healthy food options at the Augusta Golden Harvest Food Bank. Called the Produce Rescue Center, it will substantially increase the amount of perishable food, particularly produce, the food bank can store.
The $5.5 million facility will take about a year to complete. It will increase access to more meat, produce, and dairy products to families across the food bank’s coverage area.
Golden Harvest President and CEO, Amy Breitmann said $3.7 million came from a COVID-19 relief grant the food bank worked collaboratively with the City of Augusta to secure. The remainder came from private donations.
“They’re building our capacity but not just for food. They’re building capacity for our community partners to have resources that they need,” Breitmann said. “We have 350 partners across
our service area that rely on us to get healthy food and to get it out to them. So by having this facility, we’ll be able to accept more loads and produce the healthy food that they really need for the communities to thrive.”
Among those participating in the groundbreaking were Augusta Mayor Garnett Johnson and Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, Chief Executive Officer of Feeding America.
“Here’s what I find everywhere that I go. I find that there are people who don’t have enough to make ends meet, all across this beautiful country, the richest country in the history of civilization, most generous people on the whole planet, a country where billions and billions and billions of pounds of perfectly edible food, go to landfills,” Babineaux-Fontenot, said, adding, “But I’ve also seen extraordinary generosity, and support every single place that I go.”
The center will be more than 7,000 square feet. It will also house the Georgia Community Impact team which helps distribute food to those in need.
“Golden Harvest is also kicking off a capital campaign,” Breitmann explained.
“We’ve already had some investment, but we’ll be having naming opportunities, some of our rooms and facilities, so that the folks who are committed to us, you know, corporations, individuals, can come behind us financially to get these programs off the ground, not just the facilities, but the programs that need to happen for the first three years.”
Construction of phase one of the expansion is nearing completion which is adding a volunteer center and workspaces on an existing building.