NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore celebrated the launch of its third Community Feed location in the region.
The initiative kicked off last year with a partnership between the food bank and Tidewater Community College. They opened a location at MacArthur Mall.
Earlier this year, they expanded to TCC’s Portsmouth campus.
Their newest location is at the old Jordan-Newby Library at the intersection of Park Avenue and Virginia Beach Boulevard.
“We launched last year during the pandemic a model called the Community Feed,” said Dr. Ruth Jones Nichols, who is the president and CEO of the food bank. “It is designed to be a food plus model. Across our service area, we are hoping to launch many more models so that individuals can have access to food plus to live quality lives.”
Jones Nichols says the organization is celebrating 40 years in Hampton Roads, having served over 350 million meals. But 20 of them, their office has been located less than a mile from the new store opening.
She says their home neighborhood has some of the highest food insecurity rates.
The Community Feed is located right across the street from Booker T. Washington High School and down the road from Norfolk State University.
Councilwoman Mamie Johnson, who represents the neighborhood where its located, says she hopes the familiarity with the location will help show people the city cares about their well-being.
“We know so often, in my work on City Council, I get calls all day. I get emails all day. People aren’t sure about what to do or where to go. A hub is a place where they can get the necessary resources they need,” she said. “I think because it’s in walking distance, people walk by the space, they know where it is. They can build that trust and will be more willing to come inside and see what’s offered to them and take with no questions asked to be successful here in the City of Norfolk.”
Johnson says the old library was vacant for a while, and she got many offers for it to be filled, but wanted something that would help transform the community.
She learned about the Community Feed from the news and felt her prayers had been answered.
“I held out because I really believed it had to be some purposefully for the people here in Broadcreek and through the city. I kind of stood my ground and said it had to be something for the people. I believe in community hubs. So, this was a perfect place to start a community hub that would be accessible to the citizens,” Johnson said.
Not only will be residents be provided access to fresh and free groceries, but the location will also offer education about homeownership, financial literacy, and more.
Johnson says there are plans to open up more of these types of hubs throughout Norfolk.
The food bank is working with local churches as well as Booker T. Washington High School and Norfolk State University to operate the Community Feed.
It is located at 961 Park Avenue and is open Tuesday, Sept. 7 from 12:30-3:30 p.m.
It will also be open on Thursdays from 6-8 p.m.and Saturdays, beginning, Sept. 11 from 8:30-11 a.m.