Six years after it first began its search for a new facility, the FISH of Galesburg emergency food pantry has moved into its new home. “We could not be more excited,” said Diane Copeland, FISH’s president, who added that persistence and teamwork were key to finding the perfect location.
That location is the former Rheinschmidt’s Carpet Center in downtown Galesburg. The recently renovated space will also be home to the new Galesburg branch of River Bend Food Bank. “This is truly community-changing and definitely helps us fulfill our mission,” Copeland said.
“It strengthens everything we do,” agreed Elizabeth Culbertson, FISH’s new executive director. “This is a huge step for us and the people we serve.”
This past July, FISH served 423 families, including 1,112 individuals. In a year, it serves upwards of 17,000 individuals. Yet FISH’s former location was a challenge for families. “Some guests had to take two to three buses to get there and back,” said Copeland.
Along with being easier to access for clients, the new Galesburg food hub also helps reduce staff workload for the food pantry. The bulk of FISH’s food is purchased from River Bend. A truck delivered goods once a month to the pantry’s former location. But since their new facility is shared with River Bend, managing those deliveries will now be much easier.
“It was a really big job to unload all of it,” Copeland said. “Now, we’re not going to have to do that because our food will be right here, and they’ll unload it directly into our pantry area. It’s going to help immensely.”
Incorporated in 1970, FISH has grown over the decades to meet the evolving needs of the community, Copeland reflected. “It’s grown from a phone number for a person needing assistance to this awesome opportunity,” she said. “If it weren’t for Galesburg Community Foundation and River Bend Food Bank, this dream would not be a reality.”
For the Galesburg Community Foundation, the renovated building is a Mission Impact Investment. Resources were reallocated from the Foundation’s investment portfolio to purchase and renovate the building, making a local investment that generates both a measurable social impact and a financial return. The dollars earned from the food bank investment will be allocated to the Foundation’s granting portfolio.
FYI: Food banks vs. food pantries
The terms “food bank” and “food pantry” are often used interchangeably, but they’re actually different entities (and both critical in fighting food insecurity).
A food bank sources and stores food products in a warehouse before delivering them to partner agencies—including food pantries as well as schools and other meal sites—that individuals and families can visit to receive food. The new food bank in Galesburg brings River Bend Food Bank closer to roughly 50 of its partner food pantries and other hunger-relief partners.
FISH of Galesburg renovation photos