The nonprofit provided food and information Wednesday at the site of the future warehouse and pantry on Cherry Avenue NE
CANTON Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank officials provided food and information Wednesday at the site of the future warehouse and pantry at 1365 Cherry Ave. NE.
They grilled hot dogs and hamburgers and distributed 25 to 30 pounds of groceries in the parking lot of the former Fishers Foods, which closed in January 2018. Area residents also asked questions about the site’s future and saw a rendering of the planned building.
“It feels real today, doesn’t it?” President and CEO Dan Flowers remarked at the community picnic.
The Foodbank acquired the property in May 2018 with $450,000 in financing and a donation from Fishers, according to past reports. Stark County property records list the sale price at $422,500.
The former grocery store was demolished in late 2018.
The Akron-based nonprofit distributes food to more than 500 pantries, meal sites and programs throughout Stark, Summit, Carroll, Holmes, Medina, Portage, Tuscarawas and Wayne counties. There are 90 distribution sites in Stark County, said Shelly Hinton, vice president of the Foodbank.
“We’re really focused on how do we increase access points,” she said.
The Canton facility is expected to reduce time and fuel costs for agencies that currently make the trip to Akron’s 83,000-square-foot warehouse. Hinton said it also should allow the Foodbank to serve an additional 200 to 300 sites overall — with about 100 served from Canton.
Raven Gayheart, the Foodbank’s public relations and communications manager, said the Canton building will not be as large as Akron’s warehouse but will have a pantry for individuals to receive food. Foodbank members asked residents for suggestions and invited them to the second community picnic.
“They just kind of canvassed the neighborhood,” Gayheart said.
Samuel McLeod and Rodell Jackson, who drive the “biggest U-Haul” to Akron once a month for the Union Baptist Church food pantry, said a local site would make life easier for them and the people they serve.
“That’ll make it a lot better for Stark County,” McLeod said.
Jackson agreed and noted that the pantry would provide elderly residents who once walked to Fishers, such as his sister, a place to go nearby.
“It’s definitely going to help this neighborhood out a lot,” he said.
Kimmie Best, a southwest Canton resident, said she came to the picnic to learn about plans for the vacant lot. She hoped the new site would be open to people outside the immediate neighborhood.
Foodbank staff members said there will be no restrictions based on residency.
Flowers said the new facility — the first outside Akron — could open as early as 2021 but depends on how quickly funds are raised. The city of Canton already has committed $150,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds, he said.
Plans are becoming more defined, Flowers said, and residents should “stay tuned.”
“I think it’s really, really important we always stay connected with the community, and that’s our intention,” he said.
Reach Kelly at 330-580-8323
On Twitter: @kbyerREP