FRANKLIN, Va. (WAVY) — The Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore opened its new branch for the Western Tidewater area on Thursday in Franklin.

The Foodbank had temporarily operated out of the Healthy Food Pantry at Franklin’s Hayden Village Center since last year, but this is a nearly 17,000-square-foot permanent facility.

It’s located at 618 South Street in Franklin. It’ll serve not only Franklin, but Suffolk and Isle of Wight, Southampton and Sussex counties.

“With food insecurity on the rise, this new investment could not come at a better time,” said
Foodbank President & CEO Christopher Tan. “It’s all about doing more… providing more food
and more services to more people. One thing I fervently believe is that food is connection. Helping
to feed someone is one the most personal things you can do for another. Among other things, it
establishes trust. We want to use that connection to help people onto the path of self-sufficiency.”

The project received $2 million from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development and $600,000 in grants over the past three years from the Obici Healthcare Foundation, as well funding from many local organizations.

The new warehouse will serve as a hub for more than 30 partner agencies in the region, allowing them all to get supplies in under 50 minutes. It will have walk-in refrigerators and freezers and an impressive dry storage capacity of up to 96,000 of dry foods. For perspective, the dry food storage equates to the weight of about 27 Mini Cooper automobiles.

There’s also a place where food insecure people in the region can “shop” for items in the farmer’s marketplace. There are also classrooms to help with nutrition, employment, housing and financial literacy.

“This represents a very large investment into a region that has been especially beset by food insecurity, most notably among children and people of color,” said David Brandt, senior director of communications at the Foodbank.

“Franklin and parts of Western Tidewater are some of our most food insecure areas in the community. They are rural areas where it is hard to connect to food. Lack of grocery stores, etc.,” said Tan.

Look for more coverage of the opening coming on WAVY-TV 10.