A renovation and expansion project at the Golden Harvest Food Bank‘s Commerce Drive warehouse is on track.
“It is coming great. We are just seeing drywall go up this week,” said Amy Breitmann, the organization’s president and CEO. “We are right on target. We are hoping to open in the spring, probably around April.”
The construction project consists of two phases. The first phase, which includes a new volunteer and administrative center, is underway. The second phase includes a new produce rescue center. Officials broke ground on the project in July 2022.
“Phase One of this project will allow for a beautiful space for our volunteers to work, a nice new lobby and then some office space that is desperately needed,” said Breitmann.
The new construction phases help the community in several ways.
“The first phase is going to allow us to invite more volunteers in to serve alongside us each day,” said Breitmann, “Phase Two is scheduled to hopefully begin construction within the next six weeks, and this will greatly increase the amount of fresh produce that we are able to bring in and get out to our rural communities.”
With the pandemic followed by inflation’s effect on the cost of food, the organization has seen even more people reaching out for help.
“We have seen a 39% increase in the number of people served for all of our agencies, and that’s over last year, which is huge,” said Breitmann, “So 39% more people in our 25 counties are reaching out for help.”
The Master’s Table Soup Kitchen in downtown Augusta, which is run by the Golden Harvest Food Bank, has also seen an increase in requests for food.
“We have about a 23% increase in the number of people showing up there for a daily hot meal,” said Breitmann, “That equates to about 1,000 more meals a month, which is significant.”
The rise in food costs has also hit the food bank.
“We are spending 21% more on food, and our fuel cost are up 35%,” said Breitmann, “Those things all impact how we precure food and get it out to the communities.”
The Golden Harvest Food Bank offers several ways for individuals to donate and help serve the community.
“Every dollar donated creates three meals for people in our communities, so that goes directly to serving folks,” she said, “We also rely on over 1,000 volunteers a month to keep us going, whether that is at our soup kitchen or here at the warehouse.”
In 2022, the organization provided for 12 million meals. The food bank is working to bridge an 8 million meal gap. It estimates that one in eight people in the Augusta area encounter food insecurity.
To donate or to volunteer, visit the website or call (706) 736-1199.
Maxwell Shaffer is an Augusta University student and features correspondent for Augusta Good News. To subscribe to the Augusta Good News newsletter, click here.