By Nadine Cafaro
After working for years on receiving a grant for more space, the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley is excited to announce the construction of a brand new, 40,000 square-foot distribution center in the Town of Montgomery.
Currently the food bank is located in Cornwall-on-Hudson, but they’ve wanted to expand for years, and their current 55,000 square-foot space does not have the capacity. To do this, Project Manager Marcia Jacobowitz, alongside Food Bank CEO Molly Nicol, geared up with former Town Supervisor and Assemblyman Brian Maher and previous Montgomery IDA Executive Director Conor Eckert to create an application for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).
CDBG is an annual grant presented to different municipalities with hopes to support community development and expand economic opportunities for low to moderate-income families. The food bank ended up receiving $10.7 million on behalf of this grant.
“I’ve been told it’s the biggest grant [as] it’s $10.7 million. It’s the biggest grant that the Office of Community Renewal is administering or has administered,” said Jacobowitz.
The new distribution center will overall increase capacity, allowing the food bank to store and distribute food donations to six counties in the Hudson Valley. The building is expected to help around 179,000 people that currently receive support from the Food Bank. “We will be able to honor our commitment to improve local access to food assistance and to close the meal gap in every one of the 23 counties we serve,” Nicol stated.
Last Friday, members of the food bank along with political and town representatives gathered for the groundbreaking presentation of the new building. Its location will be along Route 416, by the agricultural service, Aden Brook.
Among of those in attendance was Congressman Pat Ryan, who shared a few words.
“We have to be able to come together at every level of government and in both parties and actually get stuff done. Thank you for the opportunity to be here and I’m excited to see this actually get built,” said Ryan.
It seems that one issue was getting Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval. Since the location is in close distance to the airport, there was worry about the traffic coming in and out of both locations. Congressman Ryan added that this was their small part in the process.
“We played a very small role coming at the end. It mostly involved yelling at the FAA, given our proximity here to the airport,” Ryan joked. “I’m so proud that we were able to play a small part in that.”
County Executive Steve Neuhaus brought up the pandemic and how important it became to cherish the food bank. “We [Neuhaus and Congressman Ryan] were on the phone on a regular basis, talking about Meals on Wheels programs that shut down across the Hudson Valley, food shortages and how we were going to make emergency transportation to different places. It was chaotic. The food bank was really one of the most vital partners we had, and it really was eye opening for us all. I’m so happy to have it here,” Neuhaus stated.
The ceremony ended with food bank members, political representatives and others involved putting their shovels in the ground to initiate the construction. They hope to complete the project in 2024.
“As we mark the beginning of construction, we reaffirm our mission to lead a network of partners to alleviate hunger. prevent food waste and nourish the communities that we serve,” said Jacobowitz.
The Food Bank of the Hudson Valley is a branch of the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York and a member of Feeding America. Together, the Regional Food Bank and Food Bank of the Hudson Valley currently serve more than 1,000 members in 23 counties from the Canadian border to the Westchester County border.