lagrangenews.com

Regional food bank opens new location in LaGrange

Melanie Ann Ruberti mruberti@civitasmedia.com

March 27, 2014

Feeding the Valley has a new place to call home.


The leaders of the food bank held a ribbon cutting event on Wednesday for their new facility off Gordon Commercial Drive in LaGrange. Feed the Valley Executive Director Frank Sheppard said the building will be more accessible to organizations in the northern part of its 14-county region.


“In the past, organizations have had to drive to Columbus to pick up supplies,” he said. “That’s too much time on the road. We need sites on the northern edge to serve and deliver food.”


The new facility also will allow more storage space to house the food and supplies. According to Feeding the Valley officials, they distribute 6.7 million pounds of food on an annual basis.


In its northern region, which includes Troup County, the food bank distributed 1.5 million pounds of food within the last year. One of the food banks greatest needs is in LaGrange, which accounts for almost 25 percent of its business.


“There’s a high unemployment rate in Georgia, particularly in Troup County,” explained Sheppard. “We’re seeing an increase in volume. There was a lot of interest from the community to get us here.”


One of those groups was the Baptist Tabernacle Church in LaGrange. The church buys about 10,000 pounds of food per month from Feeding the Valley to hand out to families in need and the elderly.


“The new facility is wonderful,” said Merle McMillian of Baptist Tabernacle. “It will cut down on travel time. If we need extra food, we can come here. No extra trips!”


McMillian heads up the ministry that feeds families in need. They buy food and snacks to make around 250 boxes to hand out. In addition, the group cooks up hot meals to distribute to senior citizens who can’t leave their homes and the homeless.


“Our passion is helping people,” said McMillian. “We are blessed to have Feed The Valley here.”


Sheppard said the food bank partners with around 225 organizations. Their other facility is located in Columbus. Sheppard said the rising cost of fuel was another reason to add the new facility in LaGrange.


“We’re providing better service to one of our neediest areas,” he said. “This is the best community to work with. The response is positive and people are eager to shop here.”


The food bank now hopes to find a cold storage unit to house perishable items, like meat.


Anyone seeking more information on Feed the Valley may contact the organization at 706-561-4755 or go to www.feedingthevalley.org.