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Regional food bank opens in Galesburg

Officials cut a ribbon to celebrate the opening of a new food bank in Galesburg.
Anne Giffey
Courtesy photo
From left, Galesburg Mayor Peter Schwartzman; FISH of Galesburg Executive Director Elizabeth Culbertson; River Bend Galesburg Branch Warehouse Manager Aaron Barton; and Galesburg Community Foundation CEO and President Josh Gibb.

A newly remodeled building at Henderson and Main streets in Galesburg is now a regional hub for River Bend Food Bank – and a new home for FISH of Galesburg food pantry.

The new hub in the former Reinschmidt’s Carpet Center has 18,000 square feet of warehouse space that will increase access and help River Bend and FISH serve more people in need.

“This work and the conversations that led to this work actually started in 2017 when the Clinton Health Matters Initiative was in this community,” said Josh Gibb, president and CEO of the Galesburg Community Foundation.

Knox County was among six communities nationwide to participate in that project, which built strategic partnerships to improve the health and well-being of residents.

Gibb said the dozens of community leaders involved with that project identified the need for a food hub in the area due to food insecurity.

Then in late 2020, the Galesburg Community Foundation purchased the property, making a $1 million investment in the project.

Galesburg Mayor Peter Schwartzman said food insecurity is an issue locally as well as across the country.

“We haven’t solved it yet, but we are on that path. This building – and the people it will serve – is a beacon of hope for Galesburg and western Illinois,” Schwartzman said.

It will provide multiple benefits to Galesburg, Knox County, and west central Illinois.

River Bend

River Bend Food Bank was founded in 1982 in Moline.

Now based in Davenport, it is a non-profit organization that rescues, stores, and distributes food to more than 400 food pantries and other programs in eastern Iowa and west central Illinois.

That includes more than 50 programs in Knox, Warren, Henderson, Stark, Hancock, McDonough, Henderson, and Fulton counties, that will now be able get their supplies in Galesburg, rather than Davenport.

Galesburg is the second River Bank branch to open, following one in Dubuque.

The new hub is expected to increase the impact of regional hunger-relief programs and serve more people.

Aaron Barton, a 2012 graduate of Knox College, is the warehouse manager for the Galesburg hub.

FISH of Galesburg

FISH was founded in a Galesburg church basement in 1970 and now serves more than 12,000 people a year.

But by co-locating with River Bend Food Bank’s Galesburg branch, FISH will have a more visible and more accessible location with much more room.

Part of the warehouse space includes a 4,600-square-foot cooler and freezer that was made possible by a grant from the Lions Club and a donation of land by the city of Galesburg.

That will allow FISH to distribute more nutritious, perishable foods -- such as fresh produce, dairy products, and proteins.

FISH will remain independently operated, according to executive director Elizabeth Culbertson.

But the partnership will help FISH better serve its clients by offering healthier food items and more variety.

Regular business hours for River Bend and FISH in the new location will begin in December.

FISH will be open to the public serving all of Knox County from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Jane Carlson is TSPR's regional reporter.