‘It’s a dream come true’: Facing Hunger Food Bank looking to expand with new funding
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - On Friday, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice awarded the state’s remaining balance from the CARES Act.
More than $7 million was given to food pantries and homeless shelters.
“The governor once again has certainly stepped in and made a huge investment in hunger relief in West Virginia, and we’re very grateful for that, “said Cyndi Kirkhart, the CEO of the pantry.
One million dollars was given to Facing Hunger Food Bank, to help them expand their warehouse.
“We’re just always at a situation where we’re bursting at the seams with product. We’ve been needing extra space for a long time,” Kirkhart said.
When the food bank took over the space a decade ago, they were handing out about 4 million pounds of food each year. That number has grown to 16 million.
“Buildings we looked at were pretty expensive. Every building, this one included, needs renovation and improvements,” Kirkhart said.
She said they are in negotiations to buy the building attached to the warehouse.
She said while they look at moving locations, she wanted to stay in a central spot, to give the community ease of access.
“That building next door, if that would work out, would double our space from 26,000 square foot to 52,000 just like that,” she said.
With more space would come more opportunities. Kirkhart said she wants to increase office space for her staff, add cooler and freezers, and expand home delivery services and other programs.
“That one cooler is the only cooler we have. We have other freezers, but there’s only so much they can hold, so they are thrilled with the prospect rather than having to limit ourselves because of space that now it’s almost unlimited as what we can do,” Kirkhart said.
She also wants to start a pantry in the store front of the building, offering a teaching kitchen to train people how to prepare food and eat healthily with what the have.
“I have dreamed of that for along time,” she said.
The pantry currently has 40 employees, and Kirkhart says she plans to hire 10 more next year.
Kirkhart expects the agreement to buy the new building will happen in the next few weeks.
Mountaineer Food Bank also was given $1 million.
West Virginia’s 600 food banks, including Facing Hunger’s 250 partners, also received $5,000 each.
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