FeatureBusinessFamily & EducationLifestyle & WellnessNeighborhood News

Keystone Community Food Center marks grand opening

Keystone Community Services welcomed the public to the official opening of their brand new, state of the art Community Food Center on June 6.

“This building has been a labor of love,” said Keystone Executive Director Adero Riser Cobb. “I’m so, so proud of what we have done here.” 

The new facility, located at 1800 University Ave., opened to a limited number of clients in January, but it wasn’t until early June that they completely finished the work on the building.

In what was actually two buildings to begin with, the Community Food Center can serve about 4500 families per month. According to Riser Cobb, they served over 12,000 individuals last month alone.

“I can tell you, when they come through these doors, they walk in here and they are like, ‘I love this. I really love this,’” said Riser Cobb. “When they walk through that market, they are able to hold their head up high and feel like they’re shopping at a co-op or a small market and not feel like it’s a food shelf.” 

“We wanted to look at a model like Lunds and Byerly’s and use that as inspiration for how can we create a comfortable process for folks who are food insecure, to be able to come in and to be able to get whatever it is that they need in a way that is dignified and is respectful and even aspirational,” said James Garrett, the architect on the project.

In addition to the market, the facility features a warehouse to increase capacity to store and distribute food, gathering spaces and places for expanded programming, a three-bay garage, giving space to expand foodmobile and neighborhood-based community food distribution and volunteer space. 

In fact, they have brought together all of Keystone’s food shelf programs, including the foodmobile, food shelf grocery delivery and resource navigation.

The front end of the building on University Ave. has dedicated office space for program staff, which was an intentional choice to keep clients out of the public eye as part of their experience.

“I appreciated the intentionality of putting the offices on the front,” said Diane Gerth, the former Board Chair of Keystone. “Not only is it a decent view and nice for the staff, but it’s also because the people who are here receiving services are out of the line of sight. It’s dignified.”

Fundraising for the Food Center began in 2019, with the major capital campaign kicking off in 2020, just as the pandemic began and food insecurity was reaching critical levels while causing logistical problems for food shelves – supply chains were distributed, volunteers weren’t able to or didn’t feel comfortable coming in person and space was limited. 

“Kids weren’t getting breakfast. And all of a sudden these families had to teach, said Gerth. “So we realized that we had to get ourselves together and handle the problem.”

All of this really drove home the need for an expanded space, not just for a market, but storage and distribution as well.

“Five Years ago, when we started this project, we didn’t know that Covid was going to happen. We didn’t know that the George Floyd murder was going to happen. We didn’t know that University Avenue would be on fire. Literally,” said Garrett. “But through it all, we found a way to come together and persevere and make something that I believe is truly special.” 

Through the difficulties, Keystone was able to raise more than $11 million for the Community Food Center to be completed.

Now, five years after the initial idea, the Community Food Center is a reality.

“Our vision was to create a space that would serve as a central Keystone hub for our community engagement, and where neighbors can help neighbors, and everyone is welcome,” said Riser Cobb. “This new center, this space allows us to bring more food to more people.”

Shopping hours are: Monday: 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. & 2:00 – 4:00 p.m., Tuesday: 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. & 2:00 – 4:00 p.m., Wednesday: closed in the morning, 4:00 – 7:00 p.m., Thursday: 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. & 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. and Friday: 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. & 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Learn more at keystoneservices.org/food-shelf

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *