Left to right, Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen, Elk Grove Food Bank Executive Director Marie Jachino, SMUD board member Rosanna Herber, Assembly Member Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove, and Adrian Guerrero of the Union Pacific partake in the food bank’s groundbreaking ceremony on Aug. 20.

A delayed groundbreaking ceremony was held on Aug. 20 for the Elk Grove Food Bank Services’ new, 9,000-square-foot warehouse.

Tentatively projected for completion in late October, the future facility will be much larger than the longtime facility on Dino Drive. The warehouse alone will be twice the size of the food bank’s current building.

Following the groundbreaking ceremony, Marie Jachino, the food bank’s executive director, expressed excitement for the new food bank site at 9888 Kent St.

“This is truly amazing,” she said. “We have come such a long way…It took me 17 years to get this building, and that was my goal when I started with the food bank. That was my vision is to have a permanent home for the food bank.”

Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen also recalled when the food bank was much smaller.

“I remember when I was on the food bank board, our operations were out of a trailer,” she said.

Jachino recognized the continuously growing need for the food bank’s services.

“We’re serving over 8,000 people a month and the majority of them are children and seniors, and that has continued to grow year after year: those two vulnerable populations. This is our second year of COVID(-19) and I think we need the food bank more than ever.”

Jachino also acknowledged the food bank’s many donors, including the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) and the Union Pacific.

She also recognized Assembly Member Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove, who she referred to as her “$4 million man.”

Cooper, who secured that funding for the Kent Street facility project through a state grant, spoke about his assistance.

“I knew they needed a place to grow, and the food bank’s footprint was very small and the need for services has increased dramatically,” he said. “They needed to move to a bigger place and being in the state legislature and having spent 15 years on the (Elk Grove) City Council, I was very familiar with the food bank’s needs and services, and I was able to get $4 million for this building behind me.

“It’s important. Even before COVID(-19), the need was increasing exponentially, because (the food bank) not only covers Elk Grove, but also south Sacramento and the Galt area.”

With a need for additional funding for the new food bank, Cooper worked with Adrian Guerrero, general director of public affairs with the Union Pacific Railroad, to arrange for Union Pacific to donate an additional $10,000 for this nonprofit.

Guerrero, general director of public affairs with the Union Pacific Railroad, who was joined at the event by Francisco Castillo, the company’s senior director of public affairs, told the Citizen about that contribution.

“Elk Grove is one of those significant partners that we have,” he said. “We have a lot of positive projects going on and this is one way for Union Pacific to further support our relationship and partnership with the city.

“So, when we found out about the need for the Elk Grove Food Bank, and once I connected with Marie (Jachino), the rest was history.”

SMUD board member Rosanna Herber spoke about another donation to the food bank: its contribution of solar panels for the food bank’s existing 4,700-square-foot building, on the Kent Street property.

“We are installing two solar systems: one on the old Elk Grove Food Bank (building) and one on this new one,” she said. “It’s an investment of about $50,000, and also with the new food bank being built, we’re contributing $25,000 for energy-efficient equipment like lighting and energy-efficient (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) and that sort of thing.

“So, we are excited to have this new facility, because we know the Elk Grove Food Bank serves a lot of people, and it’s a tough time in our world right now.”