October 21, 2014

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Second Harvest Food Bank to break ground on $5 million facility

This artist's rendering shows the $5 million Second Harvest Food Bank distribution center. PHOTO PROVIDED

This artist’s rendering shows the $5 million Second Harvest Food Bank distribution center. PHOTO PROVIDED

LORAIN — Officials and workers at Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio have been frustrated for years that they were unable to close the gap between the rising numbers of people needing food and the agency’s ability to meet those needs.

Friday’s groundbreaking on a $5 million distribution center — the agency’s largest-ever construction project — will go a long way to letting the organization offer a lot more help to the hungry across the four counties served through food pantries, hot meals programs and farmers markets.

“This is going to fundamentally change the way we operate,” Julie Chase-Morefield, the food bank’s executive director, said this week of the roughly 41,000-square-foot building officials hope to get underway to meet a projected completion by January or February.

“This will more than double our capacity, which is at 7.5 million pounds of food now, and allow us to have three times the number of volunteers working at a time,” Chase-Morefield said.

Susan Bartosch and Julie Chase-Morefield, executive director of Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio, stand in the food bank’s warehouse facility on Deer Trail Lane in Lorain on Wednesday. STEVE MANHIEM/CHRONICLE

Susan Bartosch and Julie Chase-Morefield, executive director of Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio, stand in the food bank’s warehouse facility on Deer Trail Lane in Lorain on Wednesday. STEVE MANHIEM/CHRONICLE

The food bank usually sees 15 to 20 people give their time and effort to work in the facility’s 16,000-square-foot warehouse on Deer Trail Lane off Baumhart Road.

“This will allow us to have 30 to 40 people,” Chase-Morefield said. “We just think of how much more (food shipments) we will be able to process. This will make us a lot more efficient.”

The new building will go up on 11 acres of land purchased by the agency on the opposite side of Baumhart Road.

Planned since early 2011, the new site was made possible by a $3.5 million fundraising campaign that included $1.5 million in internal funds, as well as a $1.5 million grant from the Nordson Corporation Foundation.

“We knew five years ago we needed to do more,” Chase-Morefield said.

The new distribution center’s receiving docks will be able to handle four tractor-trailer loads of food at one time instead of the single dock available now.

“There are many days we have two to three semis lined up waiting to unload food,” Chase-Morefield said.

The more-than-doubled warehouse space will let the organization be able to accept shipments of food from a much-larger pool of potential donors that are part of the network run by Feeding America, the country’s biggest hunger relief agency.

“Our freezer-cooler space will be seven times bigger,” Chase-Morefield said.

Bigger coolers and freezers will allow more fresh produce and frozen meats, breads and other food to be stored for longer periods of time before being distributed, Susan Bartosch, external affairs manager, said.

This is a change from past years when most donated food were shelf items such as boxed or canned foods that could be stored for six months, Chase-Morefield said.

“People are trying to get away from processed food and eat healthier,” she added.

The new facility comes at a very opportune time – as reflected by a recent study by Feeding America. that found a growing number of people are in need of food in the four counties served by Second Harvest’s network of 100-plus partner charities.

“They say our economy is getting better, but we’re seeing more people at our food pantries,” Chase-Morefield said.

Reducing hunger could lead to reduced medical bills and other costs for households that establish healthier eating habits.

That goal is a big one, both women admit, given the fact that grocery shopping so often goes to the bottom of the priority list for financially strapped households.

“Not all users of the food bank are chronic,” Chase-Morefield said. “Many use us to fill in the gap for a little while until they are back on their feet.”

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.


  • C. Carney

    perhaps if i read the whole thing, i’d get my answers, but just the title got me peeved. wouldn’t $5m be more useful as money for food than a fancy building? aren’t there enough buildings large enough and vacant in the lorain area? what a waste of tax money, who approved this?! did i miss this on the ballot somehow?

    • Sis Delish

      I concur. It’s really about The Food, not the Facility. But, just like the schools, the folks running the place wanna be comfy whilst working, regardless of the cost… For a City in the condition Lorain finds itself, this is a poor use of resources, IMO.

    • Tom

      That’s a really good point about there being so many vacant buildings in Lorain that they could have easily retrofitted one to fit their needs and probably for a lower price…

      • johns62

        but none of the buildings offer the ease of access to semi trucks, which is what brings the food to the distribution center and yes Ive been to both the second harvest and cleveland food bank facilities.

        Maybe you should check them out yourselves and get educated

        • Tom

          I was thinking about a property such as 2442 WEST 21ST STREET LORAIN, OH 44053 which is basically a large vacant building. It has access to either 611 or 58 leading to the highway. The might have checked it out and the deal didn’t/wouldn’t work. I’m just saying that it would be nice if they tried which they might have…

          • johns62

            Tom, the shopping center is not a good site. notice I mentioned ‘ease of access’. the location is not and for trucks coming from rt.2 at 58, would take them through some of the most congested roads in the county.

    • newofsl

      My thoughts exactly!!!!!!I don’t care where the money came from they could use an existing building and spend the money for food.

  • Russell Allan Panchak Sr.

    I have worked in a local food pantry in the past. I was the food pantry coordinator there. I know that money couldn’t be better spent rather than spending money on the richest and wealthiest. Before you accuse tax dollars going to this, get the facts on where the money is truly coming from. I don’t know if the critics noticed but, this country has a real serious shortage of jobs and plenty of hungry people.

  • Russell Allan Panchak Sr.

    There are bunch of sociopaths in this country.

    • golfingirl

      Sociopaths, or socialists?

  • marylou

    I am looking forward to bringing my resume by and filling out a application for clerical work. Been laid off since 2/18/2013 and no unemployment extension. Been putting in applications everyday online and now and then I get a interview, only to be disappointed again. Seems like they will need more office help….

    • golfingirl

      Are you related to any Democrat politicians?

      If not, probably no job offers coming your way from the Second Harvest Food Bank.

      Good luck in your search.

      • johns62

        you and sis are both so uninformed its scary.

        • Sis Delish

          Seems more folks concur with the “you and sis” thought patterns than with your “go check it out” commentary?

          Listen, if the need for a “New and Improved” Building to make it look like someone cares enough to have a nice building for food to be shoved around, so be it.

          To me, it was misappropriated funds which defy logic.

        • golfingirl

          Not uninformed, just have a different opinion.

          Have a nice weekend.

        • JHL27

          A couple of old uninformed guys, they are like the two old fellas on the Muppets, Statler and Waldorf. They are all talk and no action, must be some far right wingers acting that way.

  • JP

    Reading comprehension is obviously not a strong suit for some of you folks. There are no public funds going to this project. ‘the new site was made possible by a $3.5 million fundraising campaign that included $1.5 million in internal funds, as well as a $1.5 million grant from the Nordson Corporation Foundation.’

    • Sis Delish

      Money was not raised for Food, it was raised for a building.

      • JP

        With the sole purpose to be able to distribute more food to those who need it. If they don’t have the space to store the food, what good is it? Have you ever been to the food bank to see the logistics of what they are faced with? The people who donated should be applauded not condemned.

        • Sis Delish

          This may be overly-simplistic, but… wouldn’t money have been better spent if, instead of raising a building, they would have simply put out Private Sector “EBT” cards?? I mean, sure the food is being donated, but the cost of storage, managing and distribution would appear to outweigh a simple “pass-thru” programs, no?

    • golfingirl

      Do some research. Their financial report is online.

      Federal tax dollars do go to them.

      Not passing judgement on the need of a food bank, just saying they do receive taxpayer funding.

      The article did not address this in its entirety.

  • Ryan Costa

    this place is nice and too far away for most poor people to walk there. Was that intentional?

    • johns62

      this is NOT a service site, Its a packing and distribution site. Joyce I would suggest you go down and learn ( whoa Nellie) what they actually do, how they do it and where the food programs actual take place ( there’s a lot)

      • Ryan Costa

        Thank you for clarifying that. The Chronicle Telegram article would have done well to clarify that.

        • johns62

          it really doesnt need clarification. been plenty of articles on food pantries

  • JoyceEarly

    what does it say when a food bank can afford a 5 million dollar new building when everything it gives out is donations? Priorities a little messed up? Five million would buy a lot of food.

    • Tom

      I agree that $5 million would buy a lot of food but if you don’t have a processing facility and distribution center, you can’t get the food where it’s needed…

      • JoyceEarly

        Here’s what they should do. Allow each city to find a business that would donate space to store and distribute food, little satellite facilities. Partner with businesses to get the food to the county residents. It would allow more food to be stored for the food bank and get it closer to where the need is. Then turn around and spend that $5 million on food.

        • Tom

          Maybe you should apply for a position with second harvest and pitch your idea to them? Or you can start up your own food bank with that business model…

  • Carrie Watson

    My understanding of Second Harvest is that they contribute food to local food pantries (i.e. churches) that are within walking distance for many of Lorain County’s poor people. My initial thought when I read the headline was like some of yours; why spend that money on a building instead of food. However, as I read through, I realized that they were trying to create more usable storage space so that they could serve more people. I also read that they will be hiring more people. Job creation is definitely a good thing for Lorain county.

    • johns62

      glad you understand it. too many people post to the CT pages with the attention span and knowledge of a flea.

  • Ricardo Montezella

    Hey, At least all the money was spent here in the United States and not some foreign aid program….

  • Bubba1

    Stop it altogether, let the people starve if they cant work and pay for it.