City DopeNews

Food Bank of Northeast Georgia Receives $9 Million Grant for Expansion

DCA commissioner Christopher Nunn and food bank president Erin Barger. Credit: Shelby Israel

Georgia Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Christopher Nunn awarded the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia $8.9 million for a new facility at an Oct. 21 check presentation. 

The funds contribute to the food bank’s capital campaign, a $16.8 million project that will move the facility to a new location and increase by 65% the food bank’s capacity to serve Athens-Clarke and 13 other counties.

Mayor Kelly Girtz attended the check presentation, along with State Reps. Houston Gaines and Marcus Wiedower, DCA Deputy Commissioner Rusty Haygood, ACC Commissioner-elect Dexter Fisher, DCA board member Charlie Maddox and the food bank’s administrative team. 

“At the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia, we believe that food is essential to human life and human thriving,” said food bank CEO and President Erin Barger, “and what is essential cannot be negotiable.”

Nunn and Barger said the capital campaign would not be possible without the support of the elected officials present. Nunn said the Community Development Block Grant funds of the CARES Act also allowed the DCA to present the $8,895,322 check.  

“I know we all look forward to seeing the results as you go forward and expand your capacity and are able to address the needs in this community for years to come,” Nunn said. 

The new facility will be located at 890 Newton Bridge Road, across the street from the food bank’s current location. Barger said the food bank plans to break ground at the beginning of 2023, with formal construction beginning in April and concluding in spring 2024.

Barger said the new facility will enable the food bank to double the number of volunteers present, increase its ability to move food by five million pounds per year and raise its fresh food capacity by 84%.

According to Barger, the sale of the food bank’s current location will contribute to the remaining $6 million of the capital campaign, as well as the annual Empty Bowls luncheon in March 2023 at the Classic Center.

“Food is a cornerstone in what brings people together,” Barger said. “Connecting with the food bank is something that any person can do, and when they contribute to the food bank, when they volunteer with us, they are becoming a part of something that is unifying.”