Food bank finds a home

Posted Monday, Sep. 30, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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More information The Women’s Club Caring Center food bank will be dedicated at 6 p.m. Oct. 8 at 560 Easy Drive. The public is invited.

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The long-awaited new home for the Harvesting International Ministry food bank will be formally dedicated Oct. 8, marking the culmination of a two-year fund-raising and construction campaign.

The 15,000-square-foot building shares the southwest corner of West Broad Street and Sixth Avenue with the Nix Family Caring Place Clinic, both of which are projects of the non-profit Mansfield Cares fund-raising charity that supports services for low-income people.

With more than twice the space of the food bank’s former home to work with, Harvesting International President Greg Dewbrew is clear on his immediate mission: “Fill it up,” he said.

The dedication is from 6-8 p.m. and will include tours of the new facility, 150 S. 6th Ave. Mansfield Cares President Chuck Wilson said he hopes the remaining construction touch-ups are completed soon to clear the way for a city certificate of occupancy in time for the ceremony.

“It’s amazing when you have a project like this that’s nothing but good for the community how many people will step up to do things for either a deep discount or for free,” Wilson said.

He estimated his organization spent about $355,000 on the building with its cash donations. The figure does not include the value discounted and donated materials and labor.

Wilson said the Mansfield Cares directors board has decided to name the food bank the Mansfield Women’s Club Caring Center, in honor of the group that donated $55,000 to that project and has partnered in several earlier ones.

Mansfield developer Bobby McCaslin and business owner Dick kicked off the fund-raising campaign with $50,000 each of their own money. The donation tally was still about $80,000 short when the on-site work began in November. But those involved in the project had confidence, enough that they estimated the food bank would be open in four months.

“It just takes longer to build things than everybody thinks,” McCaslin said. “It did drag on a little longer than we wanted, but it’s going to open now, and that’s what counts.”

Dewbrew founded the food bank in 1999 at its current location, 560 Easy Drive in the Mansfield Industrial Park. His lease expired two years ago and the property owner, who owns the adjacent 20,000-square-foot building and wants to expand into the food bank space, has been lenient and supportive, Dewbrew said.

After the facility opens, one of the next steps will be to create a community garden on the back side. It will provide little sectors within the garden where people can plant and raise crops to share with the food bank, Wilson said.

“We would provide water to it, the city will provide mulch and training for anyone who wants to learn how to grow vegetables,” Wilson said. In exchange, he added, the community gardeners would get to keep half of what they reap and give the rest to the food bank.

The nutrition mission already hauls in and divvies out between 3 million and 5 million pounds of food a year, loading up boxes and bags of food for as many as 500 families per month and regularly sending stock to 40 or 50 food pantries across North Texas.

The larger facility could be especially timely, said Dewbrew, who closely follows the political bickering in Congress over potential cuts in the federal food stamp program, now called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

“That’s going to give us some more people in need,” he said.

And he expects even more customers from what he calls a symbiotic relationship between the clinic and food bank.

Dewbrew said he wants the relationship to blossom between the clinic and the food bank, which will share a five-acre property and, he hopes, customers.

“People at the clinic who don’t know about the food bank will come to us, and even people who don’t know about the clinic can find out about the clinic from us,” Dewbrew said. “It’s a win-win for both of us.”

Wilson said there may still be a win or two left. There’s still a little useable land in that corner.

“We’re still trying to figure out the next thing were going to do,” Wilson said. “We don’t want to stop here. We’re trying to look at a 5- to 10-year plan for that property. But right now I think the main thing it is making sure we have adequate funding to meet the needs we already have.”

Robert Cadwallader, 817-390-7641 Twitter: @Kaddmann

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