On Tuesday, the River Bend Food Bank announced a new capital campaign project to expand its facility at 4010 Kimmel Drive in Davenport.

This much-needed additional space will drive growth for the organization and increase its capacity to end hunger in its 23-county service area. This significant expansion, which includes plans to add 25,000 square feet and renovate existing spaces, begins this year during the Food Bank’s 40th anniversary, reflecting decades of growth and change, according to a press release.

River Bend Food Bank was formed in response to economic crisis in the farming industry. On Feb. 1, 1982, the Food Bank distributed its first food products, embarking on the path leading to today’s milestone.

In its first year, the Food Bank distributed 158,300 meals through 70 partner agencies. Today, over 415,000 meals are distributed each week with the help of over 300 partners across five counties in Iowa and 18 counties in Illinois.

Quad Cities high school students celebrate the conclusion of the 2021 Student Hunger Drive with River Bend Food Bank CEO Mike Miller on Nov. 16, 2021.

“In 2015, River Bend Food Bank set a goal of tripling food distribution by 2025,” said Mike Miller, president/CEO of River Bend Food Bank. “Because of tremendous support from the community, we achieved that goal five years early, growing from 7.3 to over 22 million meals distributed annually.

“But this unprecedented growth has our facility bursting at the seams,” he said. “The Expanding to End Hunger campaign will provide enough capacity to feed every person who does not have enough food in the communities we serve.”

Currently located in a 60,000-square-foot warehouse in west Davenport, River Bend Food Bank has distributed food through pantries in churches, schools, senior living complexes, and community action organizations since 1982.

Project NOW, based in Rock Island, has been a partner agency with the Food Bank since the beginning.

Rev. Dwight Ford is executive director of Rock Island-based Project NOW.

“Project NOW and the Food Bank are intractably bound together in mission to serve families and communities furthest from economic security,” said its executive director, Rev. Dwight D. Ford. “The Food Bank understands that poverty is not a mindset but a reality, which means children who do not have enough to eat struggle through classes and adults miss dinner, not because of a busy schedule, but finances.

“Those who face such challenges have an abiding friend in the Food Bank in both advocacy and action,” he said. “Our future is bright because their expansion of facilities, capacities and partnerships with Project NOW and others, all working to end the causes of food insecurity and poverty.”

Plan to distribute 50% more meals

The increased capacity will allow the Food Bank to distribute 50% more meals (a projected 35 million meals from the fiscal year 2021 total of 23 million) to fulfill the unmet needs of people experiencing hunger.

Davenport Mayor Mike Matson is excited about the growth of the Food Bank and the decision to expand.

Davenport Mayor Mike Matson

“As Mayor, I know that partnerships are the key to the success of our community,” he said. “River Bend Food Bank does a tremendous job in their efforts to end hunger in our community by partnering with school pantries, churches, and community action organizations. These partnerships are essential to providing our residents with access to the food they need.”

A hunger-free community means children are focused, attentive, and productive in school; it means adults can meet life’s challenges more effectively; it means seniors don’t have to choose between paying for medication and eating breakfast.

River Bend plans to grow the number of meals it distributes in its 23-county service area from 23 million last year to 35 million.

“River Bend Food Bank’s expansion comes at a critical time for the 23 counties it serves. Especially as food prices and food insecurity continue to rise,” said AJ Loss, Bush Construction president/CEO. “By increasing their food storage capacity, the Food Bank affirms its commitment to a hunger-free Iowa and Illinois.

“We’re proud of the Food Bank’s vision to accommodate larger volunteer groups and increase its accessibility and security,” Loss said. “We’re thrilled to help bring the project to life.”

At a ceremonial groundbreaking event held Tuesday at the Food Bank’s warehouse, the organization announced the proposed capital project will expand the current warehouse and add critical space for volunteers and staff.

Work will start this summer, with an expected completion date of late summer 2023. During that time, the Food Bank will actively seek the community’s support through financial donations of any size to complete this crucial project.

The Food Bank is finalizing the campaign fundraising goals based on Bush Construction’s estimates of costs, but the nonprofit says it already has met about 75% of its fundraising goal. 

For more information, visit River Bend’s website.