AUGUSTA — The Augusta Food Bank could open in its new location on Mount Vernon Avenue as early as Nov. 1, in a 4,200-square foot building that will include a two-story warehouse, a small office space, a roof that has been designed to hold a solar panel and a front section where clients will be able to retrieve their food.

After the nonprofit food bank raised $675,000 in a capital campaign, construction of the new facility has been continuing swiftly thanks to this summer’s clear weather, said Al Smith, the bank’s executive director, during a tour of the construction site last week.

The builder, Lajoie Brothers Inc., could complete construction of the new facility by the middle of October, at which point staff and volunteers will spend about two weeks getting it ready for clients, Smith said. It’s located at 161 Mount Vernon Ave.

The bank currently operates out of the parish hall at St. Mark’s Church on Summer Street. It’s moving to a larger space to accommodate the record-breaking number of families — more than 400 a month — who now use the food bank, according to Smith.

“We’ve outgrown our location,” Smith said. The number of clients seems “to go up every year, unfortunately. … A lot of our children are in need. There’s a lot of food insecurity.”

A precise count of how many people have used the food bank this year was not available, but the organization’s past data shows that number of people served has generally been climbing, increasing by a third from the 9,302 people that were served in 2012, to the 12,604 who were served last year.


The total number of meals provided by the organization has climbed at a similar rate, from 195,405 in 2012 to 267,066 last year. That means an average of 756 meals were handed out each day last year.

If there’s a silver lining in the new demand for the food bank’s services, it’s that the city’s recent immigrants, some of whom have fled the war-torn countries of Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, have been reaching out to the organization, Smith added.

“A big positive component of this going up is that our immigrant population has really started to trust us,” he said. “They’re starting to work with us and let us help them.”

On Thursday afternoon, a couple clients who were receiving food from the bank’s current location said they welcomed the move to Mount Vernon Avenue.

Joseph Everett lives close to St. Mark’s, in a building on Winthrop Street. On Thursday, he was chatting with another client, Tina Hart, and having a cigarette before entering the food bank. He hadn’t heard about the impending move, but said he wouldn’t mind traveling the extra mile to the new site.

“It’s good to walk, especially at my age,” Everett said. “I’m 51.”


Everett also expressed appreciation to the volunteers who run the food bank, saying that they “always welcome you” and “make you laugh.”

Another client, Cynthia Marr, had just retrieved her monthly supply of food, and a friend was about to drive her back to her home on Capitol Street. Marr suggested that because of the expansion, the food bank would be able to stock more supplies.

“I’m excited about it,” she said of the new location. “It’s going to be a big improvement.”

The new building is currently being constructed on a 1.3-acre lot donated by Augusta resident and businessman Norman Pomerleau. Now that the capital campaign to build the food bank is complete, the organization is trying to raise additional funds to purchase the equipment to operate the facility and, of course, the food that will be donated, Smith said.

At the current location, the organization has been able to use chairs, tables and other supplies that belong to St. Mark’s, but it’s starting from scratch on Mount Vernon Avenue.

“We’ve been incredibly blessed,” Smith said of the donations that have poured in for the project. “With the bigger warehouse, we’re going to need more food than ever.”


The new food bank will be divided into two halves. The back half will include a warehouse in which palettes of food can be stored and donations can be dropped at a loading dock. It will also include a small, second floor office. Clients will receive their goods in the front half of the building, which has been designed to accommodate the expanded foot traffic.

The food bank is also working with an organization that will help it install solar panels on its roof, which will help defray the electric bills that could be steep because of a freezer that will be located there, Smith said.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

Twitter: @ceichacker

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