Written by David Castellon
The Visalia Emergency Aid Council has announced plans to kick off a fundraising campaign to raise $500,000 to replace its aging food pantry on the city’s north side.
Officials for the organization say they’re off to a good start. Large donations from Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino in Lemoore and the Provident-Salierno Family Foundation — along with small, early donations — are expected to total more than $100,000.
The exact total wasn’t clear Thursday, as the money from Tachi Palace is the result of proceeds from a golf tournament and fundraising community breakfast, the latter scheduled this morning at the Tachi Community and Bingo Hall, said the council’s executive director, Liz Wynn.
Beyond that, plans are to launch a “$60-A-Square-Foot” campaign, named after the estimated cost to construct the 10,000 square-foot community food pantry to serve people in need.
About 2,000 square feet of that space would house offices for the council and classrooms for courses on getting jobs, parenting, budgeting and other skills helpful to poor community members, said Wynn, adding that the space also can be used for giving vaccinations and other medical services.
The new building is needed because the pantry, at 217 NE 3rd Ave., near Lincoln Oval Park, is a 1940s-era adobe brick building that’s showing it age, which includes a leaky roof, and is inadequate for the council’s current needs, she said.
Among those problems is insufficient space and an electrical system too old to allow for additional large refrigerators to be installed.
Wynn said the pantry serves about 1,100 families a month.
“It’s going to be a grassroots campaign,” Wynn said of the fundraising efforts, which will include requests for donations via social media, direct mailings and advertising.