The New Hampshire Food Bank has a new and bigger location in Manchester.
“It was certainly time for us to move,” said Melanie Gosselin, the Food Bank’s executive director. The Food Bank (www.nhfoodbank.org), which now has 55,600 square feet to work with and which is a program of New Hampshire Catholic Charities, had been moving about six million pounds of food out of its West Brook Street location and serving more than 400 agencies statewide. The new facility, at 700 East Industrial Park Drive, was unveiled earlier this month.
“If we get an offer of a tractor-trailer load of water, take all or none, prior to the move, we’d have to make the big decisions,” Gosselin said. “Do we try to take the water? What if the next phone call is canned goods or cereal? We can accept larger donations now and ensure that they’re here. It’s really opened a lot of doors for us.”
The facility includes space for a warehouse, a training kitchen, sorting, production and classrooms, and increased parking. It has a 5,000-square-foot drive-in freezer and a 4,500-square-foot refrigerator. The Food Bank is going to an online ordering system, which will help remote soup kitchens; food won’t be offered on a first-come, first-served basis anymore.
“It’s just an ideal spot,” Gosselin said. “It’s amazing how things have come into place.”
With donations down, the Food Bank, which began its mission in New Hampshire in 1984, has been looking for outreach opportunities and the new building incorporates triple the space of the old facility for programming and fundraising events. The space includes a production kitchen, and within a year it could include capacity for bulk food production. The Food Bank’s culinary training programs have been successful.
“We import 90 percent of our food,” Gosselin said, adding the Food Bank is striving to become more self-sufficient by doing things like creating more of its own food. “We’re just trying to be innovative.” The Food Bank serves about 130,000 people through its member agencies. Call 669-9725. —Jeff Mucciarone