In December 2013, the Food Bank moved from its home of 17 years to its current location at the newly renovated Fraenkel Center. This move to the new facility would not have been possible without the significant contributions of so many.
The Food Bank’s Capital Campaign Board Chair Mr. Bobby Yarborough spoke and dedicated the Donor Wall, Mayor-President Kip Holden came and presented a proclamation, and Mr. Mike Manning, President and CEO, spoke to thank all those who came. Mr. Rowdy Gaudet, our current board chair, also gave a touching speech about the issue of hunger in our community.
Rowdy’s message was, “I’m honored to have the opportunity to be here today with all of you to help the Food Bank celebrate its 30th Anniversary, and to dedicate this impressive Wall of Honor, recognizing the many donors who so generously gave to the “from Hunger to Hope” capital campaign to make the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank’s move to the Fraenkel Center a reality.
Recognizing 30 years for anything is a cause for celebration. Whether it’s a non-profit, a private business, or celebrating 30 years of life for one of your children, 30 years is worthy of a big celebration. For the Food Bank, 30 years of serving this community; 30 years of striving towards a mission of feeding those most in need in the Greater Baton Rouge area; 30 years with a vision that we should all embrace – to end hunger for everyone.
And it is appropriate, on a day like today, to pause and look back over how the Food Bank went from its humble start in 1984 as an outgrowth of the Urban Ministries Coalition, led by a community-wide ecumenical steering committee, literally distributing food out of the parking lot of Victoria Baptist Church on Greenwell Springs Road – to the present time, distributing now more than 10 million pounds of food to its 11-parish service region, through a network of well over 100 distribution partner agencies, all from this phenomenal facility and its 174,000 sq. ft. warehouse.
From a parking lot to a near 200,000 sq ft facility is quite a journey. A journey and growth like that takes vision, it takes dedication and leadership, and it takes the continuous support of a community, which the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank has always felt. It is said that hunger and food insecurity impact everyone; hunger and food insecurity can tear at the core of an individual; they can deplete a family’s spirit; and hunger affects the overall quality of life in a community.
But with the Giving Spirit that this community demonstrates – whether people give because they feel a moral obligation that food is a basic human right, or whether they donate because they’ve seen someone or know someone who struggles with food insecurity, – or maybe they give because they themselves have experienced hunger and they know that heart wrenching decision between buying groceries or paying bills – tackling this problem of hunger in our community has been made possible for 30 years, and it continues to be possible, because of what this community thrives in – generous hearts. It’s the kindness of all the volunteers and the donors, and the dedication of the staff and board members throughout the years, and as I look around, I say it’s all of you in this room.
It’s because of people like those pioneers – those founding members 30 years ago who gathered, recognized a need and gave of themselves for this community. It’s because of people like those on this Wall of Honor, who saw the value of a first-class food distribution facility as a need for their community food bank. It’s because of government support (Mayor Holden), and business support, and company food drives. It’s the family who budgets to donate each month, and the college kid who clicks online to donate funds from their first paycheck. It’s the retired couple who donate of their time every month in this warehouse sorting and packing food, all the way down to the elementary student who I actually talked to yesterday, who asks that her friends not bring a gift to her birthday party – but bring a canned good to donate to the Food Bank.
They are why 30 years later, this food bank is able to serve this community, and is doing so stronger than ever. They are why we all are able to stand here and celebrate today. And what I impress upon you is that you all should be proud to be a part of that. I honor all of you for being part of it, and on behalf of the current board, I thank you.”
Again, we are grateful for all those who gave so much to make this move a reality. If you were not able to come, below are some images from the event.