By Erin McCullough
The Grundy County Food Bank will soon have a new home behind the Life Choices Pregnancy Support Center in Altamont, according to Grundy County Mayor Michael Brady.
Brady told The Herald the current building that houses the GCFB is a “pretty dilapidated,” prompting county officials to look for an alternative location.
Brady said the county attempted to apply for a couple different grants to fund the new food bank building, but those avenues did not pan out as originally planned. However, the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development awarded the county an “imminent threat grant” at the end of October that gave the county the capital to fund the project.
Brady announced in a Facebook live video Monday, Nov. 2, that the project will be moving forward.
“We’re going to be able to build the food bank a new building,” he said in the video. “We’re excited for that, because they do such a great service to our community.”
Serving hundreds in need
According to Tim Glover, the director of operations for GCFB, the food bank serves hundreds of families in Grundy County each month.
“We’re averaging about 45 to 50 families per week that come in,” Glover said. Families who receive the food boxes are limited to one visit per month. With around 50 families per week, that puts the total number of families assisted by the food bank at around 200.
Brady told The Herald a single distribution day held last month saw more than 1,000 boxes handed out. Saturday, Oct. 24, the food bank distributed 1,005 boxes of food to Grundy County families in need, he said.
Previous food distribution has been set up like a one-stop grocery shop, Glover said, with different categories of food on different tables, such as produce, canned goods, pantry staples, sweets and treats, meats and dairy products.
Beneficiaries would often barter products for ones that were more in need, Glover said, such as offering their bag of potatoes for an extra gallon of milk or another meat item, which allowed families to better choose the foods they wanted and needed.
However, the ongoing COVID-19 crisis has forced the food bank to adapt how it distributes food to the people who need it. Since the pandemic hit, Glover said the food bank has been operating as a drive-thru of sorts, with volunteers distributing pre-prepared boxes of food for those who stop by.
The families typically get around three boxes filled with “a good mix” of products, such as a dozen or so canned goods, cereals, stuffing mixes, dry milk, water bottles and meats provided by the USDA.
Glover specifically thanked the USDA for providing the food bank with plentiful meats to offer the families who utilize the food bank.
“We’ve had a great variety of meat products lately, from chicken to beef to pork,” he said. The quality of the meats the food bank has been receiving lately were “some of the best” he had ever seen in the years he has been serving the food bank, Glover added.
New building plans
According to Brady, the new facility will move the operations from Tracy City to Altamont.
He told The Herald the current plan is to construct a 3,000-square-foot building behind the Altamont Life Choices Pregnancy Support Center. The new facility will feature expanded storage for food items and more as well as room to grow.
The initial building may be 3,000 square feet, but Brady said there is a potential for the facility to grow and expand to 6,000 square feet if needed.
According to Brady, he expects the project to break ground later this month.
“We are definitely on schedule to start construction in the next couple of weeks,” he told The Herald.
In the meantime, Brady said he and other officials are looking into ways to continue to fundraise for the new facility.
At present, the food bank project faces a $300,000 shortfall.
While the TNECD grant will fund the majority of the project, the full construction will require around $720,000, Brady said.
He said he and other officials are researching ways to collect the needed funds, from county appro-priations to private donations and other financial partnerships.
Any individual or business that would like to help fund the new facility should contact Brady’s office at 931-692-3718.