| The Repository
CANTON A dark, gray brick and lime green exterior has replaced bare beams at the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank’s construction site.
The new campus at 1365 Cherry Ave. NE doesn’t have all of its interior walls yet, but President and CEO Dan Flowers can point to the community room, marketplace and more.
“I wish we had the space available now,” he said.
The Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank opted to expand with a facility in Canton because of a need for more space identified as early as 2014. The food bank’s distribution is up about 20% this year compared to last year. Flowers said the food bank has been using four off-site storage spaces in addition to its Akron warehouse amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bushes still obscure Walnut Avenue NE to the west of the building but will be cleared by the project’s completion.
“We’re going to make sure we keep up on the grounds here,” Flowers said.
Upon entering the property from the southeast, charity partners will check in and be assigned one of three dock doors for food pickups.
“All of their orders will be ready for them when they get here,” Flowers said.
Farther in on the east side of the building will be a marketplace with food from grocers and retailers and a 400-square-foot cooler. Flowers said he expects to distribute 10,000 to 15,000 pounds of those “add ons” a day, which is how the food bank operates in Akron.
In addition to docks for food pickups, there are three docks for deliveries. The building’s 35-foot-high ceiling — about 10 feet higher than Akron’s — will allow stacks of up to six pallets in the southwest warehouse section.
To the north of the marketplace are four collaborative offices and the main entrance. There’s also a patio for outdoor markets.
The future food pantry will be in the northeast corner of the building. The intent is to model it after a Columbus pantry where orders are placed online for curbside pickup, he said.
“In our Akron facility, we don’t operate a food pantry,” Flowers said.
The staff entrance will be off 14th Street NE, near bathrooms and locker rooms. A food donation drop-off will be on that same side of the building.
Unique to the Canton facility will be a catwalk, which could be used for tours, extending from main offices on an upper floor. There also will be a 200-person community room and demonstration kitchen toward the center of the building.
There will be a 4,000-square-foot freezer and 4,000-square-foot refrigerator in the warehouse.
“Which we really need,” Flowers said.
The campus is on schedule to open in July 2021. He said about eight to 12 people will be hired for the local operations in the first quarter of next year.
Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank is responsible for assisting programs in Stark, Summit, Carroll, Holmes, Medina, Portage, Tuscarawas and Wayne counties.
Flowers also said the food bank’s Growing For Good campaign, which will fund the Canton campus and an expansion of the Akron warehouse, is just $300,000 from its $11.5 million goal.
“We look forward to being part of this community,” he said.
Reach Kelly at 330-580-8323 or [email protected]
On Twitter: @kbyerREP