The Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona is embarking upon a $4.5 million renovation to its facility on Country Club Road.
Central to that renovation is the construction of new industrial-sized refrigerators that can handle the massive influx in produce coming from Mexico, according to CEO Michael McDonald.
“We’ve got about a 140,000 square foot warehouse and administrative office facility and we’ve always had a one-story produce cooler and perishable food freezer,” McDonald said. “The renovation will help us increase those to two-stories tall within the building.”
McDonald added that the food bank isn’t just expanding the footprint of the facility, just expanding refrigeration and making it more efficient and productive.
The fridge and freezer renovation will be joined by improvements to the facility’s parking lot, allowing easier access for semi-trucks and other large vehicles.
McDonald is confident the improvements will help the food bank, which has been around since 1976, stay at the forefront of sustainability and altruism, as they’ll be able to feed more needy families while preventing waste at the same time.
McDonald also thanked those who have helped their three-year fundraising drive so far, including Family Housing Resources, which donated $100,000 in October to the renovation through its investment fund, FHR Cares.
FHR Executive Director Megan Heddings said the organization, which usually focuses on matters related to housing needs, wanted to help the food bank so the community’s most threatened individuals wouldn’t have to risk going hungry because the facility couldn’t keep up with demand.
“I worked at the food bank for a number of years, so I was aware of the work that they do, and in talking with my board, we thought this was a wonderful project to support,” Heddings said.
Donations like the one from FHR Cares have allowed the project to hit its projected sum, with the project breaking ground in early 2020.
McDonald hopes the project will wrap up in time for the holiday rush that tends to hit the food bank every year.
Heddings said that FHR’s donation will help the facility stay ahead of demand and need, which is a win-win for all involved.
“We’re just thrilled to contribute to such a worthy cause and to continue to make the local community stronger together,” Heddings said. “I think it’s important for nonprofits to support each other in these ways and to find ways to kind of work to make the area and individuals within it succeed.”
McDonald said the community’s support for the expansion project has been a holiday gift of sorts for staff and clients alike.
“I think it’s going to be a great way for us to start the new year,” McDonald said. “And hopefully we’ll have a really top-notch interior new facility soon where we can help and provide hope and opportunity for people experiencing food insecurity in Southern Arizona.”