Stewart and Lynda Resnick, founders of The Wonderful Company, have donated $2.5 million to the Community Food Bank, the largest cash donation the agency has received in its 26-year history.
Andy Souza, president of the Community Food Bank, said the gift will go a long way towards meeting its goal of raising $5 million to fund a major expansion project.
"We met with them a few months ago and we shared what we are doing and what our needs are," "Souza said. "And the Wonderful Company was very gracious."
The food bank is in the process of buying a 140,000-square-foot building in southeast Fresno that will nearly triple the size of its current home at 3403 E. Central Ave.
In exchange for the donation, the new building will be named the Wonderful Food Center. The building, at 4010 E. Hardy Ave., is the former home of Valley Wide Beverage.
The Resnicks are the owners of one of the leading agriculture companies in California, with a majority of their acreage centered in the San Joaquin Valley. They are major growers of almonds, pistachios, citrus and pomegranates.
"The Central Valley grows two-thirds of our nation’s fruits and nuts, and a third of our vegetables, yet in a cruel irony, many families in this region don't have enough food to put on their tables," said Lynda Resnick, vice chair and co-owner of The Wonderful Company. "In this land of plenty, no one should go hungry. The Wonderful Food Center, with its increased storage and distribution capacity, is an important first step in addressing the food scarcity challenge faced by many of our neighbors."
Also making a major donation to the food bank is the Amendola family, owners of Valley Wide Beverage. The family contributed $1 million to the food bank.
Souza said the move to a bigger building is overdue and is a testament to the growing problem of hunger in the San Joaquin Valley. The food bank provides more than 220 agencies in Fresno, Madera, Kings, Kern and Tulare Counties and serves more than 280,000 people each month totaling more than 38 million pounds of food served in fiscal year 2016.
In 2007, when the food bank moved into its Central Avenue building, it was supplying about 8 million pounds of food a year, but that rose to 40 million pounds last year.
The new building will give the food bank much needed cold storage, freezer space, volunteer training rooms and a place for nutrition education.
"I know it is an overused term, but this is going to be a game-changer for us," Souza said.
Souza expects to move into the new building by August. Along with a new home comes a name change for the agency: Central California Food Bank. A campaign promoting the new name will be rolled out next month.