Blaine County’s Hunger Coalition is set to purchase a new building across the street from its Bellevue location that will triple the size of its current space.
The Hunger Coalition serves about 20% of the Blaine County community, though the organization says closer to 40% of the area's population is food insecure. Blaine County has the 8th highest food costs in the nation and has great wealth inequality, too.
The organization is purchasing a 13,000-square-foot building on four acres to bridge the gap between those who currently use its services and those who do not yet.
Kristin McMahon, the Communications and Development Specialist at The Hunger Coalition, hopes the new space, named Bloom Community Food Center, will be more like a community center than a traditional food pantry.
“[It's] not just addressing that immediate need, but also those deep root causes of hunger," McMahon said. "[It's] empowering people who might be accessing food from the organization to also lead the community on these issues.”
The Hunger Coalition will continue to provide emergency food through its pantry, though parts of the new setting are designed to help reduce the stigma of accessing food relief in different ways.
A space in the center could look like a grocery store where people pick up food based on income. Recipients can also volunteer to help support the program. There will be a community kitchen and year-round greenhouses.
The Hunger Coalition will begin a $9 to $10 million campaign next year to fund the costs associated with the expansion, and if all goes according to plan, the center would open in early 2021.
Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen
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