The Fairfield Food Pantry will show off its new Donald Drive home to the public on Friday, Nov. 16.
And there’s enthusiasm among the staff, volunteers and board members, said Judy Dirksen, a co-founder of the pantry.
“I can tell there’s a real excitement, a real upbeat feeling,” she said.
Friday’s ceremonial open house comes six months after a car smashed through its old location, forcing the pantry’s board of trustees to make a tough decision, Dirksen said. The pantry had been on Magie Avenue for 21 years, but it had grown exponentially over those two decades.
“I think with the delay of getting things put back together, and that we needed more space, we thought it was time (to move),” she said.
Dan Grabowski, a pantry trustee, said the facility was “jammed” in the Magie Avenue space (and temporarily while in the annex) and running out of space to serve a growing clientele.
“We’ve had a number of other food pantries close, and we were picking up clients, so we decided to make the commitment,” he said.
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The pantry on Magie Avenue before the accident was operating out of a facility less than 1,000 square feet. The new building is 2,200 square feet.
Minutes before the Fairfield Food Pantry was set to close on May 3, a patron accidentally drove a vehicle through the front window and facade and destroyed the front counter. While there were no customers in the pantry at the time of the accident, workers were behind the counter. No one was hurt.
The pantry closed for about a week and re-opened in its storage annex building (which was the original pantry location 21 years ago). But the board and staff soon realized even when the building was repaired it would still be too small, Dirksen said. The pantry needed to be in a larger facility that will help the staff and volunteers serve the nearly 10,000 clients that live within the Fairfield City School District.
The pantry had closed its doors mid-September and re-opened just a couple weeks later at 78 Donald Drive.
The board looked at 11 properties, including the one on Donald Drive, and Dirksen said after the board visited that property the decision “was just unanimous.”
Pantry trustees, employees and volunteers will have a ceremonial ribbon cutting at 2:15 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16, but it won’t be traditional. The ribbon will be made of labels from canned goods, similar to ones given to the pantry’s clients.
Officials with Fairfield city and township, Fairfield City School District, Shared Harvest Food Bank, churches in the community, and business and community leaders are among the dozens that will attend the grand opening ceremony.