Southeast Missouri Food Bank buying warehouse with USDA loan

Friday, July 6, 2012

In an effort to serve more of Southeast Missouri's hungry, the Southeast Missouri Food Bank has purchased a warehouse facility in Sikeston, Mo.

Since 2007, the food bank has operated out of a warehouse on Nash Road in Cape Girardeau, but it has outgrown that space as the number of people needing food assistance continues to increase across the 16 Southeast Missouri counties it serves. In 2011, the food bank served an average of 10,000 more people each month than it did in 2010, for a total of 55,000 people monthly.

A $900,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development loan will allow the food bank to buy 21 acres and a 64,000-square-foot warehouse building at 600 Route H in Sikeston.

The building needs some repairs and modifications, including a new roof, a loading dock addition, freezers and coolers, but it will allow the food bank to triple the size of its current food distribution center, said Karen Green, executive director of the food bank.

Its existing warehouse on Nash Road will remain open as a volunteer center, giving the food bank a presence in both Cape Girardeau and Sikeston, she said.

"The Cape location allowed the food bank to become more visible and accessible to the essentials a food bank operation needs -- more volunteers, food donors and financial supporters -- and over the five-year span our two-county presence enabled us to triple the amount of food distributed to almost 6 million pounds and build a firm foundation of friends and supporters," Green said.

The food bank was formerly headquartered in Sikeston, and when it moved to Cape Girardeau, it continued to operate the Good Neighbor Pantry in Sikeston and processed its Commodity Supplemental Food program out of a warehouse there. The Commodity Supplemental Food program provides food to low-income pregnant women, infants, children and seniors.

When it came to searching for a new home for the food bank, Green said equal consideration was given to both Cape Girardeau and Sikeston. "Southeast Missouri Food Bank will not relinquish our presence in either place, just be able to improve upon it," she said.

The food bank will spend the rest of the year making the transition to its new facility.

Providing funds for the food bank's expansion helps fulfill the mission of the USDA's Rural Development loan program, said Greg Batson, area director for Rural Development in Dexter, Mo.

"Part of our mission is community development, and this is the fulfillment of that mission, especially with a food bank," he said.

The USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative seeks to strengthen local and regional food systems, Batson said.

"We're real concerned about the supply of food, and we want to make sure those folks who need the food have it and there is a facility adequate enough to handle the demand in Southeast Missouri," he said.

A not-for-profit organization and member of the Feeding America network, the Southeast Missouri Food Bank distributes food to 170 hunger-relief agencies.

mmiller@semissourian.com

388-3646

Pertinent address:

600 State Highway H, Sikeston, Mo.

3920 Nash Road, Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Map of pertinent addresses

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