Reinvestment Fund financing is helping the Mid-South Food Bank to consolidate existing operations and expand services to meet the needs of nearly 200,000 more community members in its 31-county service area in Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas.
Approximately one in five people in Mid-South Food Bank’s (MSFB) service area are food insecure, meaning that they do not have access to enough food for an active, healthy life. Additionally, 11% of the people in its service area live in a block group identified as having limited access to food retail resulting in an additional barrier to accessing healthy food.
MSFB is unable to accept all the donated product it is offered currently, limiting its ability to reach almost half of the food insecure population in its communities. Its current warehouses are not up to food safety standards and it is estimated that the food bank spends nearly $1,000 a day overcoming operational challenges that could otherwise provide food to low-income families. The project will renovate a newly purchased 227,000-square-foot warehouse to include ample cold storage, volunteer space, and a choice pantry open during evening hours.
In FY2016-2017, the food bank distributed 12 million pounds of food and household items through the following programs:
- Food for Kids Backpack Program provided more than 2,000 children with nearly 63,000 meals for weekends and holidays when access to school meals is limited;
- Kids Café sites served over 5,000 nutritious meals to children in community settings;
- Mobile Pantry Program, which serves rural communities all year round, provided 110,000 pounds of food to more than 1,800 households after the massive storm that hit Memphis in May 2017; and
- Senior Nutrition Programs provide grocery food boxes to seniors, and through their No Hungry Senior collaboration, the food bank provides shelf stable food that is single serve, easy to open, and requires little or no preparation for seniors on the waiting list for Meals on Wheels.
This project will also allow the food bank to establish a choice food pantry. Choice pantries are designed to provide clients the ability to “shop” for their food. Not only are these pantries favored for a more dignified experience for the client, they also reduce waste, allowing clients to select food that meets their dietary preferences.
The food bank will also have evening hours for the pantry to specifically serve working families unable to visit other pantries that are often volunteer run and typically limited to daytime hours.
Reinvestment Fund is one of three CDEs in the New Markets Tax Credit transaction, providing $8 million of NMTC allocation. National Community Investment Fund and U.S. Bank are the other CDEs. U.S. Bank is also the investor. Reinvestment Fund is also providing a loan to bridge capital campaign proceeds secured by the food bank to fund the leverage loan.