Hudson Valley food bank shares plan for multimillion-dollar expansion

Food Bank of the Hudson Valley Director Sarah Gunn has a rendering of a new, larger food distribution center hanging in her office as inspiration, but also a reminder that food insecurity is increasing in the Hudson Valley.
The new center currently under construction in Montgomery will be about 40,000 square feet, about double the size of the current one in Cornwall-on-Hudson. The facility will cost an estimated $22.5 million to build.
"We would much rather stay here," Gunn said during a tour Thursday of the Cornwall-on-Hudson facility. "The idea that we have to build a new building, shows what the need is."
Gunn said that in 2019, the food bank moved 16 million pounds of food to local pantries, who then distribute the food to local families. She said once the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, the center ended up distributing about 22 million pounds of food to pantries in six mid-Hudson counties, stretching the current facility's abilities to their limits. Currently, the staff is on pace to send out about 20 million pounds this year, with help from some 6,000 volunteers.
"It shows the pivotal need for us to build the new building," Gunn said. "So many people throughout the community have jumped on and helped us because they know that there's a need."
The project received a Community Development Block Grant of $10.7 from the federal government and a state grant worth $3.7 million. A campaign to raise another $6.5 million is underway, project consultant Marcia Jacobowitz told News 12.
Jacobowitz said in an interview Thursday at the project site the new building will have more loading docks, as more trucks are anticipated to transport more food.
"The numbers in our community with food insecurity has grown," she said. "Of course, COVID was a catalyst, but it hasn't stopped."
Jacobowitz said that after a minor hiccup construction is going smoothly, and the new center should be completed in the spring.
Gunn referred News 12 to research by Feeding America, the national organization over food banks nationwide including this one, that indicates food insecurity will remain high for another five years.