The Idaho Foodbank, which supplies a significant portion of supplies for food pantries across the state of Idaho, announced that the organization will move to a new facility this fall. The statewide nonprofit currently has warehouses in Boise, Lewiston and Pocatello. The hunger-relief organization will be moving their operations in Boise to a 102,000 square foot facility in Meridian that was formerly occupied by Capitol Distributing Inc. and Jacksons Companies.
“I never thought I would be so happy about a warehouse,” said Karen Vauk, President and CEO of The Idaho Foodbank. “This new building will expand our capacity to four times our current space and allow us to better serve our network of over 400 partners – schools, food pantries, senior centers, feeding sites, shelters, mobile pantries and churches – throughout Idaho,” said Vauk.
Although excited, Vauk is quick to point out that this move was not a reaction to the COVID-19 crisis. “Over five years ago we began exploring options to expand our operations in Southwest Idaho,” said Vauk. According to Vauk the challenge for The Foodbank at that time was not a shortage of food, but rather the lack of physical space to store and distribute it. “The search for a larger building was part of a strategic plan to address the needs of hungry Idahoans today and in the future,” said Vauk.
The organization’s foresight was spot-on. Prior to the pandemic 1 in 9 individuals and 1 in 8 children were facing hunger in Idaho. Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization, recently released a report that projects 1 in 6 Idahoans may experience food insecurity due to COVID-19.
The report also concluded that over 98,000 kids or 1 in 4 of Idaho’s children could be living with hunger now and through the economic recovery.
The new building, located on Commercial Court in Meridian, is being renovated by ESI Construction based on plans drafted by erstad ARCHITECTS. The locally based architectural firm was tasked with designing office space along with a first floor “community space” that includes a welcoming lobby, multiple conference rooms, a volunteer center, a large volunteer work area and a teaching kitchen for cooking classes.
None of these efforts would be possible without the generous $1.88 million lead gift by Capitol Distributing Inc. and Jacksons Companies. This donation was the catalyst for The Idaho Foodbank to purchase the building and begin construction.
“At Jacksons we believe in supporting the communities where we live and work,” said Cory Jackson, President of Jacksons Food Stores. “We’re proud to support The Idaho Foodbank in its critical operations by gifting space equipped with essential tools like refrigeration and trucking bays to their cause.”
The Idaho Foodbank has raised 65% of the financial cost of buying and renovating the Meridian facility. If the public would like to donate to this effort, they are encouraged to go to: idahofoodbank.org (click donate and choose to designate your gift to “A Fresh Approach – Capital Campaign”).
BUILDING FUN FACTS
• The building that The Idaho Foodbank currently occupies in Boise is 28,700 sq. ft. The new Meridian warehouse is 102,000 sq. ft.
• The Idaho Foodbank will utilize 65,000 sq. ft. and 37,000 sq. ft. will be leased to a tenant. This leased space also ensures that the organization has the ability to expand in the future.
• Moving to this new building will be the first time in five years that all staff in the Treasure Valley will be under one roof. Due to limited office space the organization had staff working at 2 separate locations in Boise.
• The size of the space designated for dry product and staple items at the Boise warehouse is 16,000 sq. ft. Dry storage at the Meridian warehouse is 38,000 sq. ft.
• The new Meridian space includes 3 temperature controlled spaces: One is a freezer for products such as protein; One is for produce such as fruits and veggies; One is for cooler product such as dairy
• The cooler space in the Meridian warehouse is over 4 times the size of the current 1,400 sq. ft. cooler at the Boise warehouse.
• The freezer in Boise is 4,200 sq. ft. The Meridian warehouse freezer is 10,000 sq. ft.