The Montgomery County Food Bank relocated to a new 60,000-square-foot facility in late July to have more room to expand its services and better serve the community in the future.
"The way we built the new facility—we had the foresight to really plan everything," said Sophia James, vice president of development and communications for the Montgomery County Food Bank. "Looking at U.S. Census data, data from Feeding America and projecting those types of numbers, we believe we are already projecting functioning just fine until about 2040-2045."
Before moving to its new home at One Food For Life Way in Conroe, the food bank was in a 9,000-square-foot facility near downtown Conroe and next to the Salvation Army, James said. The new facility features a large warehouse and multiple areas for refrigerated, freezer and dry goods, food sorting, the buddy backpack program as well as meeting spaces for employees, volunteers, conferences and training sessions, she said.
"We can host several hundred volunteers now," James said. "Before we'd max out at about 15 to 20 in the sort facility or they would have to be outside. Now, we can easily hold 80 to 100 in the main sort room. We can actually expand [our current rooms] and have several other areas to house volunteers."
Serving 40,000 residents in the area each month, the food bank distributed 7 million pounds of food to Montgomery County last year, James said. With the new facility, the food bank has the capacity to increase its food distribution to 35 million pounds each year, she said.
The food bank is looking to purchase at least one new delivery truck, open new mobile pantries and establish community partnerships at existing mobile sites to offer immunizations, health check-ups and other services, James said. In addition, the food bank plans to expand its services in early 2015 to three additional counties including San Jacinto, Trinity and Walker to help relieve demand on the Houston Food Bank, James said.
"Our partner for distribution is the Houston Food Bank, and they go through our county to get to those other counties," James said. "Now that we have the capacity to serve those areas, we've been in discussion with them. It's more efficient and they actually have a greater need than Montgomery County currently."
The food bank began a campaign in 2012 to raise $6.5 million to fund the new facility through event fundraisers as well as donations from corporations, foundations and residents, James said. As of recent estimates, donations now total about $5 million and officials are looking to bring in the remaining $1.5 million in the coming years to fund additional equipment needs, she said.
"We don't want to just be a food bank, though that is the No. 1 priority," James said. "We basically want to break that cycle of poverty, and the only way we can do that is to provide resources in a more well-rounded way."
For more information about the Montgomery County Food Bank and volunteering, visit mcfoodbank.org.
Mobile food sites partnered with the Montgomery County Food Bank
- Dacus Mobile Pantry, Dacus Baptist Church, 5403 N. FM 1486, Montgomery
Open on the last Wednesday of every month
- Woodloch Mobile Pantry, 2620 N. Woodloch, Conroe
Open on the second Wednesday of every month
- Splendora School Pantry, 26175 FM 2090, Splendora
Open on the third Tuesday of the month, except November it will be the second Tuesday
- Society of Samaritans Food Pantry, 31355 Friendship Drive, Ste. 500, Magnolia
Open Mon., Wed., Fri 10 a.m.–2 p.m., Tue. and Thu. 10 a.m.–4 p.m.