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Georgia Mountain Food Bank executive director resigns
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Kay Blackstock, executive director of the Georgia Mountain Food Bank, speaks Monday, Sept. 10, 2018, to members of the Hall-Gainesville Retired Educators Association at the Gainesville Civic Center as the group prepares to paint bowls for the food bank's upcoming 10th annual Empty Bowl Lunch. - photo by Scott Rogers

Georgia Mountain Food Bank, a regional nonprofit organization that distributes meals across a five-county service area, is looking for a new executive director after the departure of Kay Blackstock.

Blackstock led the organization for 15 years before submitting her resignation Feb. 2. 

She didn’t provide a reason for her decision to resign, according to Interim Executive Director Rebecca Thurman.

“...(Blackstock’s) focus was always to make sure that people who needed it most had food,” Thurman said. “We will continue that work that Kay and so many of the Food Bank’s biggest founding supporters felt was so important to the health and life of this community—that all people should be able to live their lives free of the worry about where they would get their next meal.”

Thurman, who has worked in various roles at the food bank for 8 years, will fill the void left by Blackstock until a permanent replacement is named.

“I have seen first-hand the importance of the work we do, and I, along with our board, am invested in seeing this Food Bank grow to serve even more children, seniors and families,” she said.

Neither Blackstock nor Cheryl Jones, chair of Georgia Mountain Food Bank’s board of directors, could be reached for comment regarding the resignation. 

Georgia Mountain Food Bank was approved for $2.8 million in federal grant money in May of last year through the American Rescue Plan Act to account for increased food costs amid inflation and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The food bank is actively expanding its facilities to enhance its ability to address food insecurity throughout the region. 

“Even before COVID, we were seeing an increased need in our area due to growth in population,” Thurman said. “During and following the pandemic, need increased because of job loss, health issues and inflation of grocery cost…we project, based on current trends, that food distribution needs will increase to 6 million meals in 2027, up from the 4.7 meals that were distributed in 2019.”

“Growth in facilities will allow us to expand our healthy food options, as our cold storage – needed for fruits and veggies, eggs and meat – will increase from 3,915 square feet to 7,475, or 91% more,” she said.