Feeding Greene Inc., the county’s food bank, needs help raising funds to buy its own building by the end of the month.
The board of Feeding Greene didn’t know we’d be facing a global pandemic, stock market uncertainty and closure of small businesses when it decided to make this move and now that we are they may need the space even more than before.
Rhonda Oliver, executive director of Feeding Greene, said the nonprofit has raised roughly half of the $50,000 it needs for closing on the old IGA building in the Town of Stanardsville.
“We’ve been trying for years to try to find a permanent home for the food pantry and this seems like the perfect opportunity for us,” she said. “It used to be a grocery store, it was built for IGA, it’s 5,000 square feet, it has cement floors and it has the power that we need to have a walk-in cooler and a walk-in freezer.”
The building was most recently the hardware store at the corner of Ford Avenue and Main Street. The lot holds 25 parking spaces and it’s still in walking distance to many it serves in the town. The purchase also includes the old post office that it can rent to help with the expense of owning a building.
“It’s a beautiful opportunity for us and we’re just trying to get through closing right now and then we’ll work on our building fund through a capital campaign or something,” she said.
Oliver has watched Feeding Greene grow over the past 25 years as a small ministry in Stanardsville Baptist Church to serving more than 300 families a month out of a building near the courthouse, which has served its purpose but the group needs more room.
“The front part of that building is less than a fourth of the new building,” she said. “With the back part it’s maybe closer to half the size. The cement floors mean we can bring a whole pallet of food instead of tearing down the pallet and lifting each box at a time. It will be really helpful on our volunteers.”
Anna Brown, another volunteer with the food bank, said without a walk-in freezer people sometimes have to bend over and lift 40 pounds of meat or so up from a standalone deep freezer.
“We’re trying to make a safe and volunteer friendly environment, but something where we can handle the volume because we’re now serving over 300 families a month,” Brown said. “It’s way more than a year ago and we’re not seeing that change. With everything going on right now, I actually think we’re going to have some people who will need help that haven’t needed it in the past.”
The food bank purchased a property behind the courthouse with the plan to build a building but then this property went on the market.
“Oh we looked at the finances and the time and realized we can be here faster serving more families,” Oliver said. “This was an opportunity that we weren’t expecting and things fell into place and we think this is the best use of everyone’s time and money.”
With the uncertainty surrounding us, Brown said helping the food bank is one way to know you’re helping your local community. She said some companies match donations and those who may know of grant opportunities should contact them. Funds can be mailed in to Feeding Greene directly, too.
“Everyone enjoys a good meal and even in the midst of hard times a good meal will comfort us. So many of us take it for granted but there are many families that need to choose between feeding their families and paying their bills,” Oliver said. “Too often, food is sacrificed and families find themselves turning to us for help. With all the uncertainty in our world today the need for Feeding Greene to be here helping families is greater than ever. Buying this building brings a permanent home for the food pantry and it will kind of ensure that families will continue to be fed for many, many generations to come; that’s what our plan is to secure the future.”
Feeding Greene is always looking for more volunteers, too.
“I believe we were all meant to do this thing called ‘life’ together and I believe it looks best when we’re working, serving and helping one another,” Oliver said. “We were made to be in relationship with one another. Here at Feeding Greene, we value the relationships we have with our volunteers, our donors, and the families we serve.”
Be sure to mark on your check whether it’s for the building fund, as well. You can mail donations to Feeding Greene, P.O. Box 13, Stanardsville VA 22973, to ensure it gets to them in time for closing. Brown and Oliver are also available to speak to churches and other nonprofits. Contact them via the website at www.feedinggreeneinc.org.