Bay Area Food Bank began as a concept in an April 1980 meeting when a representative from the America's Second Harvest National Network suggested establishment of a food bank in Mobile, Ala. In 1981, the food bank was organized and granted incorporation. An initial facility was established in downtown Mobile and with the aid of a $5,000 donation given by All Saints Episcopal Church, Bay Area Food Bank began food distribution operations.
During the 1980's, Bay Area Food Bank moved to two larger facilities; first at Brookley Field and then in the Crichton area as the number of participating agencies increased along with the volume of food distribution. In 1988, Bay Area Food Bank became a certified member of America's Second Harvest, the nation's food bank network, as well as a United Way agency. Membership in America's Second Harvest allows the food bank to participate in national product solicitation and distribution activities, expanding access to donated food from outside the local area.
The implementation of the Welfare Reform in 1997 resulted in increased requests by individuals for support from non-governmental organizations. This led to a surge in member agencies joining the food bank and prompted the Board of Directors to initiate a Capital Campaign to gather funds to construct a facility capable of meeting future needs.
Today, Bay Area Food Bank supports more than 700 feeding programs at more than 550 agencies from our 39,000 sq. ft. facility in Theodore, Ala. In 2004, Hurricane Ivan gave the food bank its first test as a disaster relief organization. The food bank distributed more than 1.5 million pounds in the first four weeks after the hurricane. In 2005, Hurricanes Dennis and Katrina presented another test for the food bank. After Hurricane Katrina, which devastated much of our coastal service area, especially in Mississippi and Bayou La Batre in Alabama, the food bank sprang into action, distributing 1 million pounds of hurricane relief supplies (including food and cleaning supplies) per week for the first two months following the disaster. By the end of 2005, the food bank distributed more than 8 million pounds of food and supplies for disaster relief efforts alone, with a yearly total of approximately 16 million pounds of food and supplies.
Lessons were learned during these disasters and Bay Area Food Bank is ready for the next disaster. Designed for sustained 24 hour operations with storage capacity equivalent to 60 semi-trailer loads of food, Bay Area Food Bank is prepared for its role as the Central Gulf Coast's primary food source in disaster relief operations.