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Clark County Food Bank sets sights expanding capacity, meeting county’s growing needs

Construction begins on Vision Center that will have capacity to distribute 27,000 pounds of food monthly

By , Columbian staff reporter
Published:
6 Photos
Clark County Food Bank President Alan Hamilton, center, and Board Chair Elson Strahan, left, stand and deliver speeches during a groundbreaking ceremony for the Clark County Food Bank's new Vision Center.
Clark County Food Bank President Alan Hamilton, center, and Board Chair Elson Strahan, left, stand and deliver speeches during a groundbreaking ceremony for the Clark County Food Bank's new Vision Center. (Taylor Balkom/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Huddled together under a tent in the rain, community members watched as construction of the new Vision Center at the Clark County Food Bank began Tuesday morning while a group of seven people invested in the project broke ground on the plot a few hundred yards away from the Clark County Food Bank.

The Clark County Food Bank Vision Center will be a 13,000-square-foot, $5 million project that will allow the food bank to expand its capacity, process more donations and create better access to more culturally specific food and food for people with special dietary restrictions.

Gathered at the grounds were community members who played a role in the project. They included members of the Clark County Food Bank board of directors; food bank staff and volunteers; members from Genteel Investments; and donors.

“It’s the people of Clark County that make this happen,” said Alan Hamilton, president of the Clark County Food Bank. “People in every cross section that are about alleviating hunger and its root causes.”

The Vision Center will address four main areas of need, according to a press release:

  • It will include a best practices food pantry, including wrap-around services such as health care partnerships, nutrition classes, cooking demonstrations and free lunches.
  • It will include a community space that will have the flexibility to serve as a training center for learning development and community engagement.
  • It will provide an additional 10,000 square feet for processing and distributing food.
  • It will provide an additional 67 parking spaces.

“We’re just thrilled about all these enhancements,” Hamilton said. “They are all things that over the last several years we have needed, and finally we’re going to have them and be able to have the impact in the community that we seek to have.”

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Clark County Food Bank has seen an increase in food insecurity. In 2021 alone, the food bank served more than 119,000 individual clients — more than 23 percent of the population of Clark County, according to a press release.

“That’s 10,000 more people served than the previous two years,” Hamilton said in the release.

The new center will have the capacity to distribute 27,000 pounds of food monthly and host groups of up to 200 volunteers, according to the release.

Currently, the Clark County Food Bank has raised around $1.8 million of the $5 million needed to fund the Vision Center.

“This is a uniquely generous community,” said Kristina Stewart, director of development at the Clark County Food Bank. “They pull together to make the world a better place, and that’s what we’re doing right here. This new Vision Center is going to allow the food bank to serve so many more of our vulnerable people and neighbors in our community.”

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