FRANKLIN, Va. — The Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore opened its new Western Tidewater Branch in Franklin Thursday, helping those in rural areas who deal with food insecurity.
The branch, located at 618 South Street in Franklin, will serve people living in Franklin and Suffolk, and the counties of Isle of Wight, Southampton and Sussex.
The nearly 17,000-square-foot building has a warehouse with walk-in refrigerators and freezers and dry storage capacity that can accommodate up to 96,000 pounds of dry and shelf-stable foods, the Foodbank said in a news release.
There's also a farmer’s market style area, where people can “shop” for dairy, meat and fresh produce.
The building comes with several classroom and meeting spaces, along with a computer lab for programs addressing food insecurity, including employment, healthcare and nutrition, education, housing and financial literacy.
Food insecurity, when people don't have reliable access to food, is a major problem in low-income and rural communities and communities of color, according to the Foodbank. That includes the places the new branch serves.
Foodbank data shows Franklin was one of the hardest hit places, with 28.9% of children and 25% of the African American community being impacted by food security.
“With food insecurity on the rise, this new investment could not come at a better time,” Foodbank President & CEO Christopher Tan said in a news release.
“It’s all about doing more…providing more food and more services to more people. One thing I fervently believe is that food is connection. Helping to feed someone is one the most personal things you can do for another. Among other things, it establishes trust. We want to use that connection to help people onto the path of self-sufficiency.”