(February 18, 2020) Gloucester, MA – – THE OPEN DOOR, a local nonprofit dedicated to alleviating food insecurity in the community, launches a $1.7M capital campaign to acquire the adjacent property 26 Emerson Avenue to expand its operations and build a new state-of-the-art commercial production kitchen.
The Open Door’s expansion project will add cold and dry storage, enhance client service areas, increase transportation capacity, and improve the living environment for Cape Ann’s low and moderate-income populations. This critical effort, the culmination of a 5-year strategic plan, will increase The Open Door’s capacity to distribute more nutritious food, develop greater opportunities for community engagement, and provide long-term solutions to hunger throughout the Region.
“We are thrilled to share the news of our kitchen expansion capital campaign,” said Kersten Lanes, Chair of The Open Door Board of Directors. “Our kitchen is the heart of everything we do at The Open Door. With a larger, more professional, well-designed space, we will prep our Medically Tailored Groceries, host multiple volunteer groups, expand our training opportunities, and of course, produce hundreds of thousands of delicious meals for our clients!”
Approximately 90 percent of the funds have already been pledged or received towards the $1.7 million goal. This was accomplished during the quiet phase of the campaign and completed in December 2019. The Open Door will be reaching out to the community at large to raise the remaining 10% with the goal to complete this final fundraising phase by late spring.
“The Open Door reflects what this community thinks is important—its people,” said Julie LaFontaine, President, and CEO of The Open Door. “The community’s investment in this project is an investment in the lives and health of people we serve that will pay dividends of which we can all be proud.”
The kitchen expansion project will connect the existing properties of 26 and 28 Emerson Avenue to become a unified campus that will strengthen The Open Door’s food distribution systems and build nutritional capacity throughout their programs.
“The generosity of our early donors recognizes the critical need to increase capacity to help those feeling the economic pinch in our community. They have created a solid foundation for this vital expansion of our nutrition-based operations,” added LaFontaine. “For this we are truly grateful.”
The expanded campus of The Open Door will include a brand new, state-of-the-art teaching and commercial production kitchen that will prepare fresh meals daily for their programs. From Community Meals to Senior Soup and Salad, and partially prepped, fully prepped, and Grab ‘n Go items, the kitchen will increase production and utilize more food rescue product for distribution. The new kitchen will give larger groups of volunteers who come to help prepare food and meals for clients the elbow room they need to work together. The kitchen will also serve as an experiential learning classroom for the organization’s successful “On Your Mark” youth training culinary track embedded in existing programs.
The new campus will provide The Open Door much needed dry storage space for large quantities of donations, an additional cold storage unit dedicated exclusively for the kitchen, plus newly configured dish washing and laundry rooms. It will also house two electric kilns to fire bowls year-round for the Empty Bowl Dinner project that engages more than one thousand local people each year.
Strategically positioned to work with healthcare providers to offer medical nutrition therapy coupled with Medically Tailored Groceries, the new building will provide The Open Door capacity for innovation and growth at the intersection of nutrition and healthcare. It will give ample space for private counseling, workshops, and training activities to focus on health outcomes through nutrition education and open to clients and the public.
Lastly, as part of the expansion, the organization will make upgrades to the organization’s aging transportation fleet—two trucks and three vans. Efficient and reliable transportation is key to daily food acquisition with pickups from grocers and growers throughout the Greater Boston area. Last year, 25 percent of the 2.05 million pounds of food distributed—more than 500K pounds— was rescued from more than 55 local food collaborators. In 2019, The Open Door provided 1.71million meals to 8,287 unduplicated people.
“This new property and expansion is a game-changer for The Open Door – and for our community,” shares LaFontaine. “We followed a strategic growth plan to get us to this point. This expansion will enable us to address the community’s food security needs through the lens of better health. It will help us become even more efficient while increasing our food distribution capacity and adding critical services.”
Last May, The Open Door purchased the 26 Emerson Avenue property, located adjacent to its main facility in Gloucester. The building plans are currently in progress. The leadership hopes work will begin this summer and be completed by the end of the year.
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The mission of The Open Door is to alleviate the impact of hunger in the community. We use practical strategies to connect people to good food, to advocate on behalf of those in need, and to engage others in the work of building food security. Last year it provided 1.71 million meals —2.05 million pounds of food — to 8,287 people through its food pantries and Mobile Markets. It serves residents of Gloucester, Rockport, Manchester By the Sea, Essex, Ipswich, Hamilton, Wenham, Rowley, Boxford and Topsfield.
For more information about The Open Door and ways to support the Capital Campaign, please visit foodpantry.org, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 978-283-6776. Donations can be made online at http://www.foodpantry.org or by mail to 28 Emerson Ave., Gloucester, MA 01930.