“Miracle” Storage Donation Expands Jacksonville Meals Financial institution’s Capability and Potential to Serve the Hungry – Information – The Florida Instances-Union

Businessman Carlton H. Spence gave Feeding Northeast Florida a 45,000 square foot warehouse, including 33,000 square feet of critical freezer and cold storage. Free. The warehouse, which is about a mile from the grocery bank’s headquarters on Edgewood Avenue, was valued at $ 2.5 million, well beyond the nonprofit’s financial reach.

Feeding in northeast Florida was in a dilemma.

At least 253,000 people in the service area of ​​the Jacksonville-based eight-county food bank depend on their customers’ pantries and meal plans. But the nonprofit is running out of storage for the millions of dollars in corporate, farm, government, and community food it regularly receives to feed the hungry.

Then an angel appeared, said CEO Susan King.

Businessman Carlton H. Spence gave Feeding Northeast Florida a 45,000 square foot warehouse, including 33,000 square feet of critical freezer and cold storage. Free.

“Oh my god. It was like the miracle of a life that came out of nowhere,” King said.

The warehouse was valued at $ 2.5 million, well outside the nonprofit’s financial reach.

“It would have been so difficult for us to raise something like that,” she said. “I didn’t have to run a capital campaign to have this incredible capacity. … We will be able to better serve the community. This capacity will change lives.”

Now all they have to do is raise funds to cover the running costs, she said.

The new warehouse is located about 1 mile from the grocery bank’s headquarters on Edgewood Avenue. The two facilities combined now provide Feeding Northeast Florida with a total of 66,000 square feet of storage space.

Spence has owned many businesses over the years, including meat sales and cold storage. He also owned many warehouses but sold most of them. Only one was left.

“I’ve got to the point in life where I was ready to slow it down,” he said.

He could have sold the last one, but wondered if he should give him the grocery bank, which already took up about 10 percent of the space. First he wanted to know more about the way they work. After receiving his information, he decided to make the donation.

“I just wanted to do that,” he said. “You have a good warehouse.”

Spence also wanted to remain anonymous, but realized that the news of his donation could lead other people to donate as well.

There are still two signs in the warehouse that he installed “so that the employees can get the message about my way of working”. One of the signs read: “Be the job, big or small, do it well or not at all.” the other: “Once a job has started, never leave it until it’s done.”

“I think I see the same business philosophy in Feeding Northeast Florida,” he said.

King plans to keep Spence’s mark.

“The building will keep that history and that character,” she said.

Feeding in northeast Florida serves Baker, Bradford, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns counties. In 2018, the nonprofit supplied around 14.1 million meals through its network of pantries and social services.

Another starvation-related nonprofit celebrating a new warehouse in Jacksonville is Homestead’s Farm Share, which provides food to Duval County organizations that feed local communities. Councilor Reggie Gaffney helped raise city funds to help Farm Share purchase a local warehouse after it was unable to renew its lease at the previous location.

The new warehouse is 39,000 square feet and about 12,000 square feet larger than the previous space, according to Farm Share. In 2018, Farm Share was distributing approximately 9 million pounds of food to Duval County.

Beth Reese Cravey: (904) 359-4109

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