Hunger Fight is raising the bar – and the roof – in the fight against hunger in Northeast Florida. The nonprofit broke ground on Jan. 19 on a new 15,000-square-foot warehouse and office space at 404 St. Johns Bluff Rd. N. The move will take Hunger Fight out of a small, rented space tucked back in an industrial park to a large, owned, street-frontage building.
Dean Porter, vice president of operations for Hunger Fight, said transitioning from a rental situation to building ownership will reduce logistical expenses, and ultimately turn recurrent rent into a debt-free mortgage, which he hopes to have paid off within two and a half years through their capital campaign.
“Just at today’s rent rate, we would be able to provide an additional 500,000 meals to children and families in need, as well as 20,000 books back into the community. Every single year,” he said.
In its current space, Hunger Fight is at maximum capacity for meal distribution at about 6 million meals. By building the new building to its preferred specs, Porter estimates they will be able to jump to a capacity of 15-20 million meals per year.
Based on renderings, the new design will feature more than 4,800 square feet of conditioned storage, 7,200 square feet of warehouse space, a 437-square-foot cheese room, and a wash area and office. The structure will better serve the growing needs of the organization, with more space for food storage. Roof clearance is increasing from 14 to 32 feet, allowing them to rack more than double the pallets. Its pallet bays will increase from 220 to 520.
The external space will also benefit the organization. Available parking will increase from 8 spaces to 90, allowing Hunger Fight to host its own signature event in November, as well as others.
“This is a milestone. If you’d asked me 10 years ago where we’d be, I would have never dreamed that…all of our support, our community has come together to help us and give us support,” said an emotional Porter at the groundbreaking event. “Without our community, without our donors, our corporate donors, our community partners, our volunteers, we’re nothing. We’re just a vehicle. The last 10 years, my wife’s dream has come together. So, thank you.”