New food bank and FISH food pantry to open in Galesburg
GALESBURG — The new location of a River Bend Food Bank and FISH of Galesburg food pantry is scheduled to open on Monday, Nov. 21 in the former Rheinschmidt’s Carpet Center at 876 W. Main St.
The two separate entities will occupy the same building in a partnership with each other and the Galesburg Community Foundation, which purchased the building in 2020.
The FISH of Galesburg food pantry side will provide clients a choice over what food they need, while the River Bend food bank side will distribute food to other pantries in Knox, Stark, Warren, Henderson, Hancock, McDonough and Fulton counties.
“I know it's been a long time coming and I know the community has been looking forward to it for a long time so we were excited to see this project come to fruition and completion and be able to serve more Knox County residents who are in need of food and facing food insecurity,” Elizabeth Culbertson, Executive Director of FISH of Galesburg said.
In 2019 FISH started a “client choice” model, which means allowing people to select for themselves what food they need and want. But due to COVID-19 and the tight space of their previous location at 688 Hawthorne Ct., Culbertson said FISH became more of a “drive-up” operation during the past two years which did not allow them to use the client choice model.
Their new physical location at Main and Henderson street will allow FISH to reinstitute client choice, Culbertson said.
Hundreds of people from the region toured an open house and attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony inside the facility on Nov. 15, a news release from the Galesburg Community Foundation said.
“This isn’t a River Bend Food Bank — it’s the community’s food bank,” Aaron Barton, the River Bend Food Bank Galesburg site director said. “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.”
“We haven’t solved it yet, but we are on that path,” Galesburg Mayor Peter Schwartzman said of food insecurity in the region. “This building, and the people it will serve, is a beacon of hope for Galesburg and western Illinois.”
According to the news release, Joshua Gibb, president and CEO of Galesburg Community Foundation said that the journey to the renovated facility began more than six years ago with The Clinton Health Matters Initiative, which brought together more than 75 community leaders who identified a need for a food hub in the region and began a search for the ideal property.
“While we all speak to the power of partnership and collaboration, let’s be honest—it is hard to work with others,” Gibb said. “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.”
The news release said that 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," Grimble said. "It’s something that is scalable, replicable, and can be a model for other communities across the state.”