Second Harvest moves in: 18-county food bank opens Alcoa facility
By Joel Davis | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee has finally come home to Blount County.
The food bank, which serves 18 counties in East Tennessee, officially moved into its recently-purchased 78,000-square-foot facility at 136 Harvest Lane in Alcoa on Friday, marking the occasion with a ribbon cutting and a caravan of trucks carrying the last of the food from its former location in Knoxville.
“The building is magnificent,” Executive Director Elaine Streno said. “We are thrilled to be here. We didn’t have any room to grow at the place we were. ... We can rejoice in this beautiful building, but we’re not done.”Second Harvest still needs to raise an additional $1.5 million to fund a large freezer-cooler which is projected to serve East Tennesseans’ needs for the next 25 years.
“Every day that goes by without the larger freezer-cooler, we are limiting the amount of fresh food we can rescue and redistribute,” Streno said. “With the expanded freezer-cooler we will be able to feed thousands more hungry people each month. In the meantime, we’ll be making do with refrigerated trucks.”
The agency raised $4.5 million to date to purchase and renovate the former Walker’s Supply Company facility off of Middlesettlements Road in Alcoa. The company closed its doors in 2009 after 60 years in business.
Walker sold the facility to Second Harvest for a very good deal, said Donna Hottinger, who manages corporate relations for the food bank. “We could never have got (the building) in normal economic times. We wouldn’t have been able to afford it.”The new facility gives Second Harvest the capacity to meet the needs of the region. Studies have indicated that the food bank needs to “push 40 million pounds of food per year,” Streno said. “We pushed 16 million last year.”The community has rallied to help Second Harvest, Streno said. “We are so grateful to the many businesses, individuals and charitable organizations that have made the move to the larger, better-equipped facility possible. It feels like we are on the last leg of a very long marathon, and we’re hanging in there until the day we have enough money for the freezer-cooler. That is the day we will truly celebrate.”
The trucks carried supplies from Second Harvest’s former 20,000-square-foot facility at 922 Delaware Avenue in the Lonsdale area of Knoxville.
Officials from Alcoa, Maryville and Blount County attended the ribbon cutting and offered their welcomes to Second Harvest. “I’ve had the distinct pleasure of seeing the benefits they put back into the community for a lot of years,” County Mayor Ed Mitchell said.
Donations toward the freezer-cooler can be made online at http://secondharvestetn.org by calling 865-521-0000, or by mailing a check to Second Harvest Attn: Space to Erase Hunger Campaign, 136 Harvest Lane, Maryville TN 37801.