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Golden Harvest breaks ground on new construction project

(Featured image of Amy Breitmann, executive director of Golden Harvest Food Bank giving a hard hat tour with Augusta Mayor Garnett Johnson Feb. 23)

Officials at Golden Harvest Food Bank broke ground on Phase 2 of upgrades to its Commerce Drive facilities Feb. 23.

“I’m very happy that the county commissioners approved the project, and we’ll be moving forward in collaboration to bring more healthy food especially produce to our neighbors in  Richmond County and across the 11,000 square miles that we serve. ” said Amy Breitmann, executive director, at Thursday’s ceremony.

Golden Harvest Food Bank celebrated a groundbreaking on upgrades to its new produce reclamation center. Photo by Charmain Z. Brackett

 The produce reclamation center, which has been known as the Faith Food Factory building, was constructed in 1965 and shows its age with its brown walls and plumbing. The new project will provide additional cold storage and freezer space, space for volunteers to help sort pack and distribute fresh produce and as a new pickup area for agency orders.

 “We will keep the name the Faith Food Factory as a portion of this building because it  means a lot to us — naming our volunteer space after the origins of this building that truly does process faith into action,” she said.

 Across the street from the produce center is the organization’s main offices.

In July 2022, officials broke ground on phase 1 of the construction project, which transforms the warehouse and office space.

MORE: Food Bank expansion to combat hunger

Breitmann led a hardhat tour of the construction and pointed out the upgrades to Augusta Mayor Garnett Johnson and other dignitaries attending Thursday’s ceremony.

Private funding especially the “generosity of MacKenzie Scott gave Golden Harvest the empowerment to think bigger and broader and with more vision than we had before,” Breitmann said.

Scott, the former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, donated $9 million to the food bank in December 2020.

Golden Harvest Food Bank has two construction projects underway. Photo by Charmain Z. Brackett

A focal point of the new construction will be a two-story area that will have a timeline of the organization’s 41-year history plus tell the stories of the work Golden Harvest does.

One thing the construction will not add is more warehouse space.

“We don’t need more warehouse space,” she said. “Our job is not to store food; our job is to move food to those who need it.”

Johnson said he appreciated the work the food bank does.

“There’s always more demand than supply,” he said as the food bank helps feed the homeless and those in need while others face food insecurity with inflation at a 20-year high.

The Commerce Drive facilities are only part of the organization’s warehouses. Its Aiken facility also has warehouse space.

Breitmann said Golden Harvest will supply 12.4 million meals in 2023 to those living in its 11,000 square mile reach.

“We’re ramping up to fill an 8.8 million meal gap,” she said. “It’s not an easy goal, but we are working hard to make it happen.”

 The first phase of the project should be completed by May 1.

Charmain Z. Brackett is the publisher of Augusta Good News. Reach her at charmain@augustagoodnews.com. Have headlines delivered to your inbox by clicking here.

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