• 70°

SAFB gearing up for move to Craig Field

The Selma Area Food Bank (SAFB), which has been headquartered on Oak Street for more than two decades, is getting ready to move into a “nicer and larger facility” at Craig Field, according to SAFB Executive Director Jeff Harrison.

“This process just started today, officially,” Harrison said Monday, noting that he and representatives from the Montgomery Area Food Bank (MAFB) had just concluded a meeting. “It’s a joint effort beween us and Montgomery. They’re more than willing to offer their advice and expertise and everything else that comes with it.”

According to Harrison, a MAFB board member had a relative with an empty warehouse on Craig Field that they were interested on donating to the Montgomery operation – since the MAFB had no plans to utilize the space, they handed it over to the SAFB.

“As a partner of Montgomery, we enable them to spread their footprint out, which enables Montgomery to cover from one side of the state to the other,” Harrison said. “Obviously, with the logistics of it, they can’t cover that much ground alone, so they rely on partners like us. They’ve taken ownership, it’s been deeded to Montgomery, but as their partner we’ll be able to utilize that building, which is much larger than where we currently are. It was designed to be a warehouse where product comes in and out regularly.”

The SAFB began operating out of the building on Oak Street in 1993,  at first renting the building until it was donated to the local food bank about four years ago.

“We’re grateful to have it, but we’ve basically outgrown it,” Harrison said. “We just need to be more efficient with our loading and unloading, with servicing clients and those sorts of things.”

Aside from size – the SAFB is currently working out of a 7,500-square-foot building, while the new warehouse offers more than twice that amount – the new warehouse offers amenities the SAFB desperately needs.

Currently, when local partners come to pick up food from the SAFB, the food has to be carried outside and then loaded into people’s vehicles – the new building will allow those same partners to pull right into the warehouse, get loaded down with foot items, and drive out the other side.

“That’s one of the biggest features,” Harrison said. “Weather won’t be a hindrance at all anymore.”

Additionally, the SAFB was suffering from the lack of a loading dock, where oversized trucks could offload their donated goods, but the new warehouse will also resolve that issue.

“Having a certified loading dock, that is built for unloading trucks, is a dream come true for us,” Harrison said. “It’s just unimaginable for us to have all these conveniences.”

The building will also provide room for larger offices.

Currently, Harrison does not have a time line for when the SAFB’s operations will full transition into the new building, as he wants to ensure that there will be no hiccup in delivering services to those in need, but he did say that he and the SAFB crew will be “working day and night” to move “as soon as humanly possible.”

“It’s kind of like when you’re moving into a new house,” Harrison said. “We want to do as much as we can before we move from the old house into the new house.”

On top of that, Harrison said the new building has been vacant for quite some time and will require a bit of cosmetic work and basic renovations and already the community is stepping up to lend a hand – Selma KFC Owner Mark Woodson donated a relatively-new freezer compressor that will be utilized when the building is up and running.

“We’re off to a good start with people like that in the community,” Harrison said. “Once they know the need, hopefully they’ll be able to help us enrich our services.”

And Harrison said there will be plenty of opportunity for people to step up and lend a hand as the new building is renovated and made ready for operations.

“Despite the problems Selma might be facing, we can still rise as a community and pull together and do the common good we need to be focused on,” Harrison said. “We get so distracted and out of focus sometimes with all the worldly stuff going on that we lose sight of helping our neighbors. That’s what we’re here for, to reach out and help our neighbors.”

To find out how to get involved, contact the SAFB at 334-872-4111 or via email at jeff@selmafoodbank.com.