Grundy Food Banks Moves into New Home

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

The Grundy County Food Bank hosted its first distribution of the year on Jan. 3 at its new home in Coalmont. “We’re there,” said county Mayor Michael Brady triumphantly. “It’s been challenging.”

Just days before Food Bank Director Tim Glover and volunteers moved products from the Tracy City site where the food bank previously operated. Although rent free, the building had long outlived its usefulness. Buckets and trashcans caught water from the leaking roof that had plagued the facility for years.

“There’s no short list of things Grundy County needs,” said Brady. “We have to rely on grants. And the wheels of government turn slow.” In the fall of 2020, after months of waiting, Brady received word the grant request for funds to build a new food bank had been denied. Despondent, he spoke with Tennessee First Lady Maria Lee who on a recent visit had promised to help Grundy County and urged the county grant writer to resubmit the application requesting Imminent Threat status. Days later the county received word the request for funding had been granted.

An Imminent Threat Grant meant “quicker” funding, Brady said. But supply chain delays compounded the long, slow process of seeking bids on equipment and building kits. In the fall of 2021, the supplier promised Brady building kit delivery in eight months. Brady estimated another two or three months for construction, projecting the food bank would be in its new home well before Christmas 2022.

Then, another stumbling block reared its head. Delayed delivery of the coolers and freezers set things further behind and when they did finally arrive it took nearly two months for the assembly and installation.

“I put the fire under them three weeks ago,” Brady said. “Cold weather was coming, and we couldn’t be heating two buildings.” Elaborating on the challenge, Glover said, “The coolers and freezers come in a box in pieces. You’ve got to put them together. You’ve got to get an electrician, and you need to have the installation inspected. Everybody has schedules, and you’re on a waiting list. You have to wait.” The grandsons of Food Bank Board President Theresia Campbell helped Glover move most of the heavy pallets of food. Glover moved the meat himself, an all-day project, just a few days before opening.

But, despite the hard work, Tim Glover is a happy man. “The new building is clean, the roof doesn’t leak, and I love the larger new cooler.” Glover said. Another cooler is on the way.

“Not everyone is excited by something that benefits only a few,” Brady said. “But with the food bank grant, we were able to accomplish something for everyone.” The food bank occupies only half the climate-controlled facility. The other half is dedicated to storage of county documents, meaning no rent for record storage. “That frees up capital for other uses,” Brady stressed. “It’s a win-win.”

Glover said a few clients went to the Tracy City location on Jan. 3. He welcomes help spreading the word about the new, central location just past the Highway 56/Highway 108 intersection in Coalmont, on 114 South Industrial Park Rd. Food distribution is every Tuesday, 8–10 a.m. Plans call for a dedication ceremony at a later date. There is much to celebrate.

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