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Thinking big to better the community

Executive Director Sara Griffen helped plan and secure funding for Imperial Valley Food Bank’s new, expanded location.


Thinking big to better the community
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Executive Director Sara Griffen helped plan and secure funding for Imperial Valley Food Bank’s new, expanded location.
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California’s Imperial County is known for agriculture. Despite this, the county has one of the highest rates of food insecurity in the nation, according to the Imperial Valley Food Bank (IVFB). IVFB has tackled that problem head on, but was constrained by working out of the same facility since its founding in 1991.

That was the case until 2016, when Executive Director Sara Griffen led the effort to build a new facility.

  • Cramped quarters: The programming staff was practically working on top of each other at the food bank’s original location. The facility lacked some essentials, including ventilation, a loading dock and adequate refrigeration. And in an area where temperatures frequently reach 115 degrees Fahrenheit, the warehouse didn’t have air conditioning.
  • Navigating New Markets Tax Credit: Griffen came across the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) program in her research and connected with JPMorgan Chase, who provided  $1 million in credits. It took Griffen two months to complete the necessary paperwork. “It was extremely difficult to get everything in place in order to move forward, but it was so completely worth it,” she said.
  • Thinking big: The new 28,000-square-foot space is more than double the old building’s size. The food bank now includes more than 3,500 square feet of cold storage, along with increased security, space for programming and other amenities to help deliver millions of pounds of food annually. Plus, there’s room to grow. “We want this building to be here no matter what happens with hunger in the Valley,” Griffen said.
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