Officials from Tarrant County, the city of Fort Worth and other local dignitaries helped break ground on the Tarrant Area Food Bank agricultural hub March 1.

The 7,500-square-foot facility will be located adjacent to the food bank’s location at 2600 Cullen St. in Fort Worth. It will mainly be used to receive fresh produce donations from area companies and local farmers to serve the needs of those that are food insecure in North Texas, according to food bank President and CEO Julie Butner.

"This is one of the fastest growing cities and counties in the United States. Cost of living has risen drastically," Butner said. "Inflation has gone up in double digits like we've never seen before. And right here in Tarrant County, the cost of living—because housing is scarce and because food prices have gone up—is very, very difficult."

Butner also stated how the ag hub expansion was made possible through funding from numerous organizations. One of the funding sources was a joint endeavor by the city of Fort Worth and Tarrant County through American Rescue Plan Act funds.

“In addition to those funds, we also received grant funding from the Texas Department of Agriculture and also from the Sid Richardson Foundation,” Butner said. “This funding was absolutely critical to our efforts to secure the space and to renovate it to make it food safe.”

In his remarks during the ceremony, Tarrant County Commissioner Roy Charles Brooks spoke about the importance of healthy foods being the backbone of healthy communities.

“This agricultural hub is essential to providing fresh produce for our community. That is essential to a healthy diet and healthy diets are essential to healthy communities,” said Brooks. “May we do good work toward ending hunger in our community and making sure that, when kids go to bed, they can sleep because their stomachs are not growling all night. And when they get up in the morning and go to school, they can learn because their stomachs are full. This is a community effort, and I thank you all for what you've done to make this facility happen.”

Tarrant Area Food Bank was founded in 1982 by a group of Fort Worth residents concerned about hunger in the community. It is now the primary source of donated food for hunger-relief charities and feeding programs in Tarrant and 12 surrounding counties, serving 1 million meals each week, according to its website. The organization depends upon volunteers and donations to carry out its mission on a daily basis.

According to Butner, the new agricultural hub is slated to be open in August. Once it is fully operational, it will help provide fresh fruits and vegetables to at least 450,000 people in North Texas.