HUDSON — The truck had already put rubber to the road as the St. Croix Valley Food Bank officially opened on Wednesday, June 30.
The 22,000-square-foot facility in Hudson will serve as a hub serving 35 food pantries in St. Croix, Pierce, Polk and Burnett counties.
“We are eliminating hunger in western Wisconsin, that’s our goal,” Board President Warren Schneider said.
Staff, board, volunteers and supporters gathered for an open house to celebrate the opening.
Here’s what to know as the food bank opens:
How it began
The journey to the bank started back in 2007 when the John Coughlin Resource Center was founded by the United Way St. Croix Valley. When that 1,500 center opened, it provided 65,000 pounds of food in its first year, Board Vice President Jim Dahl said.
Now the goal is to provide 6 million pounds of food.
“We needed to keep growing,” Dahl said.
A new partnership
St. Croix Valley Food Bank has also recently partnered with Second Harvest Heartland to increase the amount of meals delivered.
Together the two will work to double the 3 million pounds of food they were able to deliver last year.
The two signed a contract on the St. Croix Crossing bridge to signify the partnership.
“We’re looking forward to the continued partnership for a long time to come,” said Second Harvest Heartland COO Thierry Ibri.
The need is here
The increase in meals delivered is needed in the area. Last year’s efforts of 3 million pounds of food was only meeting about half the needs of local residents.
One in 10 people and one in six kids experience food insecurity. More than 9,800 households in the region don’t know where their food is going to come from tomorrow.
That was all before the pandemic hit, Schneider said. Now the need is expected to surge between 30-60% over the pre-pandemic level.
Time to fill the shelves
With the building open and the need growing, now it’s time to fill the shelves.
The bank launched its “Fill the Food Bank campaign.” Schneider and his wife helped kick it off, donating $10,000 to help fill the shelves.
Executive Director Ann Searles said they need the help of the community to meet the need.
“This is your food bank,” she said. “The communities we serve are yours.”
The warehouse is a tool, Schneider said, and now it needs to be filled.
“With your support we will surely end hunger here in western Wisconsin,” Searles said.
How to help
Those interested in donating or volunteering with the St. Croix Valley Food bank can find more information online at stcroixvalleyfoodbank.org.