2022 ended on a high note for Feeding Northeast Florida (FNEFL) as it announced the purchase of its new food bank facility in the finals days of the year.
Renovations are in store for the new space at 5245 Old Kings Road — a 121,000-square-foot warehouse complex covering 12 acres of land — and FNEFL hopes to see construction begin early in this new year and wrap up by the end of it.
According to a FNEFL press release, this new space more than doubles its current facility, which “currently operates out of two smaller warehouses for the collection, inspection and distribution of food throughout its service area.” The nonprofit organization is “the area’s largest community food bank,” serving eight counties in the northeast region, including Duval, St. Johns, Baker, Nassau, Putnam, Bradford, Baker and Clay.
In the press release, FNEFL cited a significant increase in demand for charitable food since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with its food bank reporting a 25% rise in demand now than “during the height of the pandemic.”
At the annual Empty Bowls Luncheon in October last year, FNEFL President and CEO Susan King stated, “There’s 25% more people who are trying to access food assistance now than those days. It’s just not on the news. In our organization, we refer to this as a silent crisis. Everything looks on the surface to be improving and good and hopeful, but there really is a big part of our community that continues to suffer.”
This new purchase for the organization — which closed in Dec. 2021 — will reduce costs for the organization while increasing efficiency and allowing for the expansion of “food assurance programs such as nutritional education programming, additional space for partner agency training and community building, and expanded volunteer opportunities.”
“Getting healthy, nutritious food into the hands of those in need is our top priority at Feeding Northeast Florida,” King said in the press release. “This new campus will allow us to expand both the depth and breadth of our services. We are so grateful for the support of our community in helping us continue our mission to end hunger here at home.” The Conlan Companies is the project’s general contractor with Thomas Duke Architect and Micamy Design Studio as the design team.