The Central California Food Bank is spending its last few days at this location

published on June 28, 2018 - 1:55 PM
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Community Food Bank’s big plans to move by the end of summer to a facility with more warehouse and office space just got a big, $3.5 million boost.

It came in the form of two donations, $1 million from Fresno’s Valley Wide Beverage and $2.5 million from the Wonderful Company.

The Amendola family, which owns Valley Wide, already was helping the food bank by selling the charitable group its 140,000-square-foot warehouse headquarters at 4010 E. Hardy Ave. in south Fresno that the company vacated last month to move into a newly-built, 300,000-square-foot facility warehouse nearby.

The Amendolas agreed to sell to the food bank the beverage company’s vacated headquarters — which would provide the charity more than three times the space it now has — at a price below market rate, though that amount hasn’t been publicly disclosed.

“For over a year, Lou Amendola has graciously worked with Community Food Bank to ensure the successful purchase of the building. Both Valley Wide Beverage and the Amendola family are deeply committed to ending hunger in Central California, with a focus on making sure children in the Valley do not go to bed hungry. Their legacy gift will provide hope for the future for generations of families and children to come,” states a press release from the Food Bank.

“We simply would not have this opportunity if it were not for Valley Wide Beverage and the Amendola family,” Andy Souza, president and CEO of the Food Bank, said in his own comment included in the press release.

The Food Bank provides food for about 280,000 people monthly — 90,000 of them children — in five counties extending from Kern to Madera. Its current 41,000-square-foot leased space is so small amid a growing need for food assistance that some food donations and volunteers are turned away due to lack of space.

As for The Wonderful Company and its owners, Lynda and Stewart Resnick, the billionaires are heavily invested in the south end of the Valley, where fruits and nuts for their Wonderful and POM Wonderful brands of products are grown.

The Resnicks also are philanthropists, and their donations to the arts have resulted in a 41,000-square-foot extension of the Los Angeles County Museum of art being named after them.

As part of the donation to the food bank, The Wonderful Company has purchased the naming rights to the former Valley Wide facility, once the charity moves in, with plans to call it the “Wonderful Food Center.”

“We are proud to support Community Food Bank and its great work on the frontlines of the fight against hunger,” said Lynda Resnick, vice chair and co-owner of The Wonderful Company, said in a written statement.

“The Wonderful Company is one of the major employers in Central California and as such, we are committed to giving back in the communities where our employees live and work. We are pleased that our donation will help Community Food Bank expand its operations and serve even more local families in need.”

Since January, food bank officials have been ramping up the “Building Hope Capital Campaign” to raise $5 million to buy the facility and do some renovations – many to meet food-handling laws that didn’t apply when only canned and bottle beverages were stored there.

Andy Souza, president and CEO of the Food Bank, said the plan has been to roll out the fundraising drive more publicly over the summer, and the donations by The Wonderful Company and Valley Wide are huge, early boosts.

“We are working incredibly hard towards meeting our fundraising goal, which will allow us to move into a new building, and we’re extremely grateful to the generous individuals, businesses and organizations throughout California whose contributions are making this new facility possible,” Souza’s statement continues.

“We know that hundreds of thousands of people here in Central California are hungry. This campaign has the power to transform our community, ensuring that no one in our Valley has to go to sleep hungry.”

To donate to the capital campaign go online to www.ccfoodbank.org/buildinghope or send a check by mail to Community Food Bank, memo: Building Hope Campaign, 3403 E. Central Ave., Fresno, Calif. 93725.

All donors over $1,000 will be recognized on a donor recognition piece in the new facility.

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