AUGUSTA, Ga (WJBF)- Thursday morning, Golden Harvest Food Bank will break ground on a new facility that could mean more resources for hundreds of people in our community.

The organization is nearing completion of phase 1 of construction, which includes a volunteer center and workspaces on its existing building.

Produce Rescue Center rendering. Courtesy: Golden Harvest Food Bank.

The new facility in phase 2, called the Produce Rescue Center, will allow Golden Harvest to increase how much perishable food items they can distribute. Once the new Produce Rescue Center opens, families in 25 counties will have access to more meat, produce, and dairy than before.

The $5.5 million facility will be more than 7,000 square feet and should take around a year to complete. It will also house the Georgia Community Impact Team, which works to distribute food to those who need it.

Amy Breitmann, CEO at Golden Harvest, told NewsChannel 6 that people looking on their website for help with food has increased 89 percent because of inflation.

“Food insecurity is really high right now and a lot of programs are being cut. So we need ways that we can get more fresh produce in here, invite the community to sort and pack it and get it out to our neighbors,” she said.

She said the expansion project comes at a time when people need help now more than ever.

“I know they’re eliminating the emergency SNAP benefits in March. We’re really going to see some hurting families. I think during the pandemic we had such a peak and now a lot of programs have washed up and we’re kind of looking at people who are just paycheck to paycheck trying to make it,” Breitmann explained.

The groundbreaking will take place at Golden Harvest Food Bank at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, February 23.

The CEO of Feeding America, Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, will be a special guest at the ceremony. Afterwards, the food bank will take Babineaux-Fontenot on a hard hat tour of the Phase 1 project which is nearing completion.

Photojournalist: Will Baker.