Georgia Mountain Food Bank, a regional nonprofit that provides nutritional needs across a five-county service area, broke ground Thursday in recognition of the expansion of its Gainesville location on Calvary Industrial Drive.

The project will entail further development of the facility, according to Interim Executive Director Rebecca Thurman, adding 10,000 square feet to the building, a cold dock storage area and additional cooler space, a larger parking area and shipping/receiving office.

“We distribute about 6 million pounds of food a year through this facility,” Thurman said. “We’re ramping that up in the coming year, once we have the space to do it. Our goal is to have 6 million meals a year by the end of 2027. In order to do that, we have to have the space, so that’s what this expansion is about.”

A recurring theme expressed to more than 100 supporters and community members present for Thursday’s groundbreaking centered on the organization’s mission: to counter the crisis of food insecurity across the region.

“Feeding America says that 1-in-7 Americans are hungry…the need is very important, especially in the inflationary economy,” Thurman said. “People are spending more on gas. Groceries are so expensive. The food bank helps fill that gap of need.”

Jennifer Herring, one of Georgia Mountain Food Bank’s board members, echoed Thurman’s sentiment and stressed the need to resolve food insecurity throughout northeast Georgia.

“The expansion is really going to be able to allow us to have more opportunities to meet the needs that we have in the community,” she said. “Not just here in Gainesville and Hall County, but in the other four counties (the food bank) serves. This growth is going to have a regional impact on food insecurity in our area.”

More than $2.3 million in federal grant money and private donations from supporters of the food bank will be used to finance the expansion.