Three weeks ago, the shelves at the Georgia Mountain Food Bank’s new 20,000-square-foot facility were practically bare.
Now, cans, pallets of food and signs of life can be seen under the roof of the Boomershine Family Logistics Center, the new home for the food bank.
“It feels like home,” Executive Director Kay Blackstock said. “It felt like home the first day I came and put me a little desk here in the warehouse so we could finish the project.”
She said the amount of food the organization has handled in-house has tripled since moving into the space.
“We’re bringing in more partners, we’re bringing in more food — there’s something almost daily that comes up,” Blackstock said. “It’s incredible.”
The food bank distributed more than 135,000 pounds of food last month, almost 14 percent of the total food distributed this year.
“So we’re giving (our partner food banks) more food, more quality food and more varieties of food because we have the ability to handle it now,” said Blackstock.
Last year, the food bank distributed more than 980,000 pounds of food to the more than 40 partners in Hall, Dawson, Forsyth, Lumpkin and Union counties.
Blackstock said in 2011, for every dollar spent, 9 pounds of food was distributed.
“The idea is: Nothing goes to waste,” she said. “If people need food, then there’s no reason why we should throw it away. And since we’re here, they don’t have to.”
Since opening in mid-August, the food bank has added more than 10 donors, stemming from a $2 billion campaign that Wal-Mart started in 2010 to provide food to the needy.
“That’s been a huge plan for us,” Blackstock said.
And now that the organization has a new space, it can start collecting directly from the suppliers in the area, instead of the Atlanta Community Food Bank.
“It’s more cost-effective for them for us to go pick up from those stores,” said Blackstock. “Now that we have the capacity to do it, they’re willing to let us pull the trigger on it.”
The Georgia Mountain Food Bank acts as the logistical hub for the Atlanta Food Bank. It collects, briefly stores and distributes food to local banks that, in turn, hand the food out to the needy.
“A difference we’re seeing is people understand a little clearer what our role is and why supporting us makes sense,” Blackstock said.
Before moving to the new space, the food bank operated out of donated space at Hollis Transport Agency in Flowery Branch.
Over the next five years, the food bank plans to handle and distribute more than 6 million pounds of food, along with building stronger relationships with local partners.
“Everybody wants to be here and everybody wants to contribute, and we just feel overwhelmed with the amount of support that we’ve gotten so far,” said Blackstock. “We knew, we expected when we got here that the word would get out and the food would start coming.”