By WILLIAM K. ALCORN
VINDICATOR HEALTH WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Second Harvest Foodbank of Mahoning Valley is growing out of its Midlothian Boulevard quarters and wants to build a new $1.2 million warehouse.
The food bank, which serves Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties, distributed 4.1 million pounds of food to 200 agencies in 2001 -- 900,000 pounds more than in 2000, said Michael Iberis, executive director.
At a news conference Wednesday to raise public awareness for the food bank's March Harvest for Hunger campaign, Iberis announced plans to build a new 25,000-square-foot warehouse.
Second Harvest, a nonprofit organization, is located in a 16,000-square-foot converted warehouse at 1122 E. Midlothian Blvd.
What's behind this: The building has been adequate for eight years, Iberis said, but the need is expanding and there is no room to expand the operation. He added that the warehouse is not set up for a food distribution operation.
A new warehouse specifically would be constructed for that purpose and thus be more efficient, he said. The lease on the Midlothian Boulevard warehouse expires in fall 2005.
Throughout the country, Second Harvest food banks have built new buildings when appropriate, Iberis said. For instance, Second Harvest in Cleveland plans to break ground for a new facility this year and, in 1999, the Pittsburgh food bank moved into a new warehouse.
The proposed new warehouse here would hold more product and make it possible to distribute it more efficiently, Iberis said.
Funding is the key to getting a new warehouse, and Second Harvest is looking in two directions to obtain financing.
It is on the list of Mahoning Valley projects seeking money through the Ohio Capital Appropriations Budget. It also has approached Mahoning County commissioners for possible funding through the county's Waste Management Recycling Division, known as the Green Team, where money is available for construction projects that use recycled materials.
Location: Although money is still an issue, the food bank has been offered five acres on Victoria Road in Austintown by D.D. Davis Construction, Iberis said. He added that Second Harvest is working with Youngstown officials to determine if there are some city locations that might be suitable.
Regarding the Harvest for Hunger campaign, local support is crucial this year as the area faces more job layoffs and business closings that will adversely affect working families, especially those with children, Iberis said.
Second Harvest has national and local corporate sponsors such as Giant Eagle, Tops and Sparkle Markets, Valley Foods and others.
Rebecca Martinez, director of development, said individuals can help the food bank by dropping groceries off at the warehouse or conducting food drives at their place of business.