After years of moving to various different locations due to a devastating sewage spill that destroyed its building and ruined thousands of dollars worth of food, local non-profit Food for People is finally back in its old location … but with a brand new building.
Food for People officially moved back into its Eureka Choice Pantry location 307 West 14th Street just earlier this week, Executive Director Anne Holcomb told the Outpost during a tour of the new digs on Friday afternoon, and is again open and offering its services at the old location.
“We’re back to the mothership,” Holcomb said, “This has been an enormous thing, because we were in four different locations. So we’ve been bringing everything back in stages.”
The site’s sewage spill disaster happened in February 2020 and was almost immediately followed by the pandemic, leaving the non-profit to scurry to find a new location and replace the lost food inventory so that it could help serve the community during the COVID-19 emergency. After discovering that the sewage spill had caused much more damage than initially anticipated, the building had to be completely demolished.
Because Food for People owns the property, the nonprofit decided it would be easier to build a new building on the site, since it is very difficult to find a space that could accommodate its needs in the long run. Thanks to a $1.5 million grant from the Smullin Foundation, other various grants and many donations from members of the community, Food for People was able to fund construction of the new building, which Holcomb said cost about $6.2 million. After many delays due to supply chain issues, construction was finally able to begin on the site about a year and a half ago.
The new building is substantially bigger than the old one and has several new features, including a food pantry that is about three times the size of the old pantry, huge walk-in refrigeration systems for perishable foods, a bigger storage warehouse and three new intake rooms for people looking to receive services. Upstairs the building also has new offices and a large conference room.
Holcomb said that the building is also much more “emergency prepared” than the previous one (for obvious reasons) and is fit with a big backup generator in case of power outages and solar panels. The silver lining to all the difficulties of the last few years, is that Food for People now has a building that will be able to fully meet their needs for the next many years.
“The past three years have been some of the most challenging I’ve ever been through,” Holcomb said. “I’ve been with Food for People for 22 years and am actually getting ready to retire. So this was kind of my finish line.”