At the open house and ribbon-cutting celebration, hundreds of people from around the region toured the renovated space to learn how this crucial project will benefit thousands of children and adults who experience hunger in the region.
Prior to the ribbon-cutting, Joshua Gibb, president and CEO of Galesburg Community Foundation, explained how the journey to the renovated facility began more than six years ago with The Clinton Health Matters Initiative, which worked with six communities across the country to strengthen the capabilities of government, the private sector, and nonprofits to improve the health of communities. “That initiative brought together more than 75 community leaders who identified the need for a food hub in our region,” said Gibb. “It was then that a search for the ideal property began and the conversation about the need never stopped.”
In December 2020, the Foundation purchased the former Rheinschmidt’s Carpet Center at the corner of Main and Henderson Streets and renovated it with the intent of partnering with River Bend Food Bank to establish a food hub that would improve access to food distributed to pantry partners throughout the region.
“This isn’t a River Bend Food Bank—it’s the community’s food bank,” said Aaron Barton, River Bend Food Bank, Galesburg site director. “Ending hunger is a bold goal and it will take us all to make it happen. We’re looking forward to working with all of you to meet that goal and create a hunger-free community.”
Galesburg Mayor Peter Schwartzman shared Barton’s sentiments about working to address food insecurity in the region. “We haven’t solved it yet, but we are on that path. This building, and the people it will serve, is a beacon of hope for Galesburg and western Illinois.”
In addition to River Bend Food Bank, FISH of Galesburg food pantry will relocate to the renovated building. “With this new, larger, more accessible location, we can grow to meet the needs of more of our neighbors now and in the future and fulfill our mission of providing food to those in need,” said Elizabeth Culbertson, FISH of Galesburg executive director.
For the Galesburg Community Foundation, the renovated building is a Mission Impact Investment. Resources were reallocated from the Foundation’s investment portfolio to make 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 their granting portfolio. “By using our investment portfolio as a way to generate both financial return and social impact, the Foundation is using every tool at our disposal to show the power of philanthropy in this region.”
Caronina Grimble, director of the Office of Strategy, Equity, and Transformation at the Illinois Department of Human Services, recognized the food bank as a model partnership, “This is, in my opinion, philanthropy at its finest, weaving a private partnership to address a social issue together with the work of state government agencies in order to provide this remarkable resource for your community. It’s something that is scalable, replicable, and can be a model for other communities across the state.”
The partnership not only brings better access to food to the region, it also brings a rejuvenated property and new jobs to the Galesburg community. “While we all speak to the power of partnership and collaboration, let’s be honest—it is hard to work with others,” said Gibb. “However, the partners in this project persevered because the work is too important to do it alone. The Community Foundation is so proud to prompt this important partnership to become reality.”
Regional Media Coverage of the Event: