Food bank reopens in larger new facility

SANTA ROSA -- After more than six years of planning, the larger new home of Redwood Empire Food Bank is set to open Tuesday.

[caption id="attachment_71341" align="alignright" width="360"] David Goodman, executive director, shows the spacious new lobby with pallet-like wall art by Jackson Liles Architecture. (image credit: Gary Quackenbush)[/caption]

This facility, located at 3990 Brickway Blvd. north of Santa Rosa, is designed to serve 166 nonprofit and faith-based agency partners that manage 248 food distribution programs in Sonoma, Mendocino, Humboldt, Lake and Del Norte counties up to the Oregon border some 320 miles away.

With three and a half times more square footage than the former facility at 3320 Industrial Dr. in Santa Rosa, the new location also has 25 percent more storage volume because of a higher ceiling, providing more space for vertical storage racks.

This central food distribution hub combines the activities previously conducted at four different buildings into one site with 60,410 square feet of usable space, including a 5,000-square-foot freezer and refrigerator.

“We have seen food demand grow from 70,000 people per month since the economic downturn to 78,000 today,” said David Goodman, executive director of Redwood Empire Food Bank.

Of this total, some 11,800 are seniors, 13,500 are from working families and 34,000 are children. While some 52.2 percent of adults served have jobs, 61 percent of those adults are at or below the poverty level, and 38 percent have children. A recent study of those helped by the food bank estimated that one in six Sonoma County residents need food assistance, according to Mr. Goodman, who noted that figure likely is low.

"But this data is not the whole story, since it only counts those who come to a food distribution center, not everyone who is hungry," Mr. Goodman said. "Our goal is to change food insecurity into food security. Access to healthy food is a right, not a privilege."

[caption id="attachment_71342" align="alignleft" width="400"] Redwood Empire Food Bank's new home (image credit: Gary Quackenbush)[/caption]

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