FACES to get new facility

Published 11:49 pm Tuesday, July 10, 2018

FACES Food Pantry will soon get a new location in the Heart of Virginia, FACES President Ellery Sedgwick confirmed.

He said the pantry will build a 7,000-square foot building on 2 1/2 acres in the area of Commerce Road in Prince Edward County, adjacent to the Southside Virginia Family YMCA.

Sedgwick said the process to build a new location for the food pantry began approximately three years ago.

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The building and location ultimately came about due to a sizable grant FACES received from FeedMore, formerly known as Central Virginia Food Bank. Sedgwick said FeedMore is one of FACES main suppliers of produce and other foods.

FACES received the grant at the end of April.

He said FACES raised funds throughout the three years, including using proceeds from a bequest from a former Farmville resident and FACES volunteer Janice Niederbrock. He thanked FeedMore and the community for their support.

FeedMore President and CEO Douglas Pick said FeedMore presented FACES a grant of approximately $500,000 to build the new food pantry.

He said the amount is a testament to FACES dedication in the community and the importance of having a facility that will meet the needs of the Heart of Virginia.

“It is a sign of how important we think of Farmville and the surrounding areas are to FeedMore’s mission,” Pick said about the grant.

Pick acknowledged the challenges faced by rural Virginia residents, including poverty, and said it was FeedMore’s goal to assist people in the area who most need it.

“We want to make sure those folks know that they’re not forgotten and that we do want to assist them in any way we can,” Pick said.

Sedgwick said the pantry previously was negotiating renovating the old STEPS location at Industrial Park Road, but costs to renovate the building became expensive.

He said FACES was approached by Brad Watson of Davenport & Co. LLC and the Southside Virginia Family YMCA about using land adjacent to the YMCA for the new location.

“They knew we were looking for land, and we made a very generous arrangement,” Sedgwick said, who said the YMCA had a few acres of land for FACES to use. “It’s a really good example of cooperation between organizations.”

Sedgwick said in order for the location to go forward, they would need to prepare a site plan to present to the county, and once approved, can begin building the location.

He said the building would be more than twice the size of the current location at North South Street, which is 3,200 square feet.

It will have offices, additional space for refrigeration and freezers for produce and other items, and additional meeting space for its other programs it runs with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“It will give us a permanent home,” Sedgwick said about the facility. “It will give us good equipment, and a sanitary, well-cleaned facility to distribute from. And help us to expand our programs.”

Most importantly, flooding will be much less of a threat.

“No floods,” Sedgwick said with a laugh.

Bill Straten, out of Appomattox, will be the contractor.

Giving an optimistic estimation, Sedgwick said breaking ground for the property could begin in mid-September.

FACES served 992 households in 2017, distributing a total of 1.3 million pounds of food through its weekly distributions, its deliveries to senior citizens and its children’s backpack program, Sedgwick said. Households who pick up weekly distributions that include food staples such as bread, meat products and produce can save up to $2,500 in a year. He said this can come up to nearly 10 percent of a household’s income for families who make $20,000 a year or less, giving families the funds to care for their health and other expenses.

Stephen Blewett with the YMCA said working with Sedgwick to develop the new FACES location is exciting, and will have a positive impact in the area.

“We were blessed with the opportunity from Prince Edward County, the land that we were given,” Blewett said. “And we wanted to help FACES out to establish a new distribution center.”

Sedgwick thanked residents and area organizations for their time and effort, particularly following the flooding that occurred at the pantry in May.

“I’m looking forward to it as a major step forward in expanding the service to the community,” Sedgwick said.