The Crisis Center of Johnson County broke ground on an addition to its food bank’s warehouse on Friday morning. There’s a real need for the extra space, said Sara Sedlacek, the center’s communication and development director.
“The warehouse was originally built in 2003. We were serving about 350 families a week then, and distributing about 500,000 pounds of food annually,” Sedlacek told Little Village. “Now, we’re serving well over 1,000 families a week, and distributing 1.6 million pounds of food annually.”
But the improvements to the warehouse will involve more than just extra space.
“We’re adding another cooler,” Sedlacek said. “Especially during summer months we get a lot of donations of produce, and we also purchase a lot of produce. It would last a lot longer, if we keep it in a cooler.”
The new addition will include a repackaging room.
“Right now, we aren’t able to repackage food. So, if somebody goes to Costco and gets a giant bag of rice to donate to us, it all goes to one family, instead us being able to break it up, so it can go to several families,” Sedlacek explained. “That’s going to be a huge improvement.”
A new doorway to the outside will also be added to the food bank. Currently, clients exit the food bank by the same door that people dropping off donation enter through. Sometimes that causes a traffic jam. When construction is finished, there will be a separate entrance for people dropping off donations.
The Crisis Center has started a new round of fundraising for the warehouse expansion. The initial round of fundraising reached the center’s stretch goal of $350,000, thanks, in part, to a $45,000 matching grant from the University of Iowa Community Credit Union. But the price of the project has gone up since that goal was reached due to, ironically, a series of crises elsewhere — specifically, the devastating storms during this year’s hurricane season.
“Because of the hurricanes, we knew that the cost of materials was going to increase. That’s why we set our stretch goal,” Sedlacek said. “But now the bids have come in, and it’s going to cost us $400,000.”
“So, we still have about $50,000 to go. We’ve applied for some grants, but we will likely have to ask the community once again to help us meet our goal.”
On Friday afternoon, the center announced Adamantine Spine Moving it would match community donations up to $25,000 to help cover the cost of the expansion.
Anyone interested in contributing to the Crisis Center can do so through the center’s website.