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Expansion Planned For Bay Area Food Bank

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Bay Area Food Bank
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Bay Area Food Bank in Milton is experiencing incredible growth, and that’s leading to the need for a larger facility.

It’s something akin to getting too big for one’s britches: in this case, the “britches” is a building that was completed only in 2009.

“The goal is that the facility would be able to distribute about four million pounds of food,” said External Relations Manager Colleen McMahon. “In 2014 we distributed 9.5 million pounds of food.”

Bay Area Food Bank serves two dozen counties in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. McMahon says the good news is that the facility was designed for expansion of shelf space for canned and boxed food, which will enable the organization to stay put.

At this point, it’s unclear just how much it will cost to expand the facility. That determination and a capital campaign are planned for next year. Meantime, Bay Area Food Bank has applied for an Impact 100 grant for $106,000, to upgrade its loading dock. 

Impact 100 will announce its grant recipients in October.

The food bank also has a reserve fund and other revenue sources to make up the difference. McMahon says there are other, more immediate needs they’re addressing, such as acquiring a backup generator.

Along with food distribution, Bay Area Food Bank also provides a number of programs and services, including three that are child-centered. The Summer Food Service Program, which feeds up to 1,200 kids per day at 25 locations, the After School Snack Program, and the Backpack Program.

“The Backpack Program provides meals and snacks to children during the school months over the weekend,” McMahon said. “A lot of the children are relying on free or reduced-price meals at school. So on the weekend and in the summer is when they’re not receiving those meals, they rely on other sources.

Those and other programs offered by the Food Bank are also aimed at combating food insecurity, that is, not knowing when the next meal will be. The national rate, says Colleen McMahon, is about one in six adults and one in four children.

“In Escambia County, over 26% of children are food insecure,” said McMahon. “In Santa Rosa County, it’s a little over 25%. Those numbers are pretty staggering.”

More information on Bay Area Food Bank’s needs and programs can be found at www.bayareafood-bank.org.

Dave came to WUWF in September, 2002, after 14 years as News Director at the Alabama Radio Network in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham and a total of 27 years in commercial radio. He's also served as Alabama Bureau Chief for United Press International, and a stringer for the Birmingham Post-Herald.