CARES Act money used to expand, upgrade building used to help needy residents

Renovations will allow GCS Food Pantry to expand services

By Bruce Hope
Posted 12/30/20

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – A new and updated version of the Green Cove Springs Food Pantry is ready to do its job at a higher level, serving even more families in need than it did previously. The …

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CARES Act money used to expand, upgrade building used to help needy residents

Renovations will allow GCS Food Pantry to expand services

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – A new and updated version of the Green Cove Springs Food Pantry is ready to do its job at a higher level, serving even more families in need than it did previously. The building, located at 1107 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., has undergone significant renovations and expansion.

The remodeling came at the cost of about $150,000, which was supplied via CARES Act funding in the last economic stimulus package.

The project began from idea to completion last February and is now complete.

“We came up with the idea for the project around the first month that COVID [19] kind of started,” said Steve Thomas, Assistant Public Works Director for the city of Green Cove Springs. “And we came up with some projects and submitted them for COVID money. This one was approved.”

The renovation created between 800-1,000 additional square feet of space. The extra space will provide more area for storage of foodstuffs in addition to an office, a waiting room for families and restrooms. The renovations also will help provide and prepare more than canned and non-perishable food to the community, as well as allow it to keep more donations in its center of operations.

“The Food Pantry has been an integral part of our community and the county,” Green Cove Springs Mayor Van Royal said. “This expansion not only allows them more space for storage, but they will be able to store in refrigerators as well as freezer space. Access will be easier, and the volunteers will be able to move goods in and out with much less effort. It makes volunteering easier and allows them to better serve our city and families all over Clay County.”

The pantry expects to provided better services for the Green Cove Springs community than it did in its previous iteration.

“I imagine they would be able to help 200-300 more [families], if not more than that,” said Thomas. “I believe they [the food pantry] can hold all the food that they ever have donated or delivered.”

“There’s just so many blessings that come with this building that’s going to make our job easier and make it easier to help our clients,” said Wynema Lovell, the director of the pantry.

The interior renovation included new shelves, storage racks, food prep tables and other appliances to aid in the day-to-day operation of the pantry. On the outside, changes will continue into the spring. The changes will include a paved drive-through lane, a parking circle and overhead cover for an area where families can pick up prepared packages in case of inclement weather.

“The CARES Act has been a great opportunity to strengthen our nonprofit organizations and increase their capacity to help those in the community most impacted by the COVID-10 pandemic,” said Clay County Commission Chairman Mike Cella. “The improvements made at the Green Cove Springs Food Pantry were funded through a partnership with Clay County and the City of Green Cove Springs and will have a lasting impact that will directly benefit local families.”

All of the electrical wiring and lighting inside the buildings also were replaced, and the installation of a new HVAC system was installed.

“The food pantry does nothing but help people in the city of Green Cove Springs, and that’s what the CARES Act money was for,” said Thomas. “With a lot of people out of work, they [the food pantry], were serving a lot more people than usual. So it really is a good thing for the food bank to be getting this funding and get this done.”

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