The Northwest Arkansas Food Bank (NWAFB) held a ceremonial groundbreaking this morning to announce its $25 million Food For Today. Hope For Tomorrow. capital campaign. Through this investment, the Food Bank will establish a new campus in Lowell that will house a new distribution facility and launch new programs to increase annual distribution and improve access to fresh, healthy foods across its four-county service area. When complete, NWAFB will be in a position to increase food distribution by 60 percent, with a goal to distribute more than 14 million meals by 2025.
The Food Bank responded to overwhelming needs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to see these long-term impacts being felt by individuals on the brink of poverty. Loss wages and increased cost of basic goods continue to push many households into food insecurity for the first time.
“Projections indicate that the population of Northwest Arkansas will double by 2045, meaning that the need for access to healthy food will also increase,” Kent Eikenberry, President/CEO of the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank said. “We estimate that 20 million meals will be needed by 2045 and today, we are providing 11.3 million meals. This campaign is a major component in our strategic plan to meet the needs of our hungry neighbors by establishing a new distribution warehouse and launching new programs.”
The capital campaign centers around three areas of improvement to support the goals outlined in the Food Bank’s strategic plan to nourish, feed and lead:
• A New Campus: NWAFB has acquired 15 acres of property located at the intersection of Pleasant Grove Road and Honeysuckle Street in Lowell, AR. A new 82,425 square-foot Center for Hunger Relief will be built to serve as the central distribution facility supporting all Food Bank operations and a hub for community engagement. Features of the new building will include expanded warehouse and freezer/cooler capacity, a Volunteer Center, a Teaching Garden, a Community Room and Teaching Kitchen and staff offices.
• Network Capacity and Program Growth: NWAFB has focused significant attention and planning into improving access to fresh, healthy foods and wrap around services through investments in partners and new programs. The Community Resource Center-Feed Rogers, which is the first of these planned improvements and NWAFB’s first Food Bank-run pantry, was launched in March 2022.
• An Operational Fund: NWAFB’s capital campaign includes a portion of funding to be directed towards future operations. A $3.5 million operational fund will be established to ensure that the increase in operating and program expenses is secured through at lest the first five years after expansion.
The campaign kicked off with a generous contribution of land from the Hunt Family, which has established the 15-acre campus and will provide room for future expansion. Since then, several corporations, foundations, individuals and organizations have joined the campaign with $17 million raised to date.
Joining Kent Eikenberry for the ceremonial groundbreaking were representatives of the Food Bank’s past, present and future: Tracy Bowman, Alex Cardarelli, Jeff Necessary, Dan Schroeder, Claire Schmill and Patrick Shanks.
To learn more about the Food For Today. Hope For Tomorrow. capital campaign, visit hope.nwafoodbank.org.