FORT WAYNE – Community Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Indiana distributes nearly 13 million pounds of food a year.
The agency’s mission may be easier now that it has surpassed $5 million raised for its capital campaign, which kicked off four years ago.
A crowd of 200 gathered Saturday evening at Hotel Fort Wayne, 305 E. Washington Center Road, to celebrate reaching the fundraising goal.
A $500,000 grant from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation of Owings Mills, Md., enabled Community Harvest to secure about $5.2 million. Baltimore businessman Harry Weinberg, along with his wife, established the foundation more than 50 years ago to combat poverty.
Community Harvest Executive Director Jane Avery said the money will pay for expenses, including interior and exterior renovations at the agency’s headquarters, 999 E. Tillman, and a new location at 1010 Coliseum Blvd. N. The site will accommodate a blanch-chill-freeze technique that allows fresh produce to be stored for distribution months later.
Avery said the produce location is what attracted the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.
There was a period during the campaign when officials thought they should count their blessings when the tally hit $4 million.
Some thought maybe we should be happy with that, Avery said.
She admits the reasoning made sense, particularly since many local foundations and companies had capped capital campaign spending because of the recession.
I’d say more than half of the donations are from individuals, and that’s not typical, Avery said, adding that businesses and other organizations usually step forward. Everybody was saying they were only spending money on immediate needs.
Former Sen. Richard Lugar also noted how the campaign butted heads with the recession, which makes the generosity shown to Community Harvest all the more impressive.
Exceeding the $5 million goal is a remarkable achievement given the state of the economy during the capital campaign, said Lugar, an honorary capital campaign co-chairman.
This success is a tribute to this vital organization, which provides nutrition to so many of those in need, he said in a statement.
Parkview Health President and CEO Mike Packnett, fellow co-chairman, praised the community for coming together.
It is not the result of any single individual, he said. It is a gathering. It is a collection of efforts, and those in most need will reap what we sow.
Avery said Community Harvest has much to be thankful about as well.
Before we announced the campaign, a private donor stepped forward and gave us $1 million, she said. I thought, we have to go for it now because we already have 20 percent of the funds.