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Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Jevin Jensen, chairman of the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners, said the funding will go toward expanding operations at the food bank's Dalton location.

The Whitfield County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously this week to accept a federal grant of approximately $2.4 million to help fund the Chattanooga Area Food Bank's expansion into Northwest Georgia.

According to board chairman Jevin Jensen, federal money going toward the project totals $2.4 million. This comes from a grant from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. An additional $780,000 in matching funds will be provided by the food bank itself.

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The funds will be used to hire more staff and buy machinery that allows for expanded operations at the food bank's warehouse on South Hamilton Street in Dalton. It will also allow the food bank to continue to provide service for the more than 83 agencies it partners with in Northwest Georgia, all of which are in one of the following nine counties: Whitfield, Murray, Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, Fannin, Gilmer, Gordon and Walker.

"With the pandemic and the situation in Whitfield County, we've had expanded need, unfortunately, at the food bank. They provide a lot of the other nonprofits in the area with food services as well," Jensen said on Tuesday, noting the importance of the food bank in the local community. "They want to add a cooler. They want to expand and add another dock so they can move food in and out quicker and more efficiently, and also to have healthier food. With refrigeration, they can have more fresh fruit and vegetables, things like that."

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In Whitfield County alone, 10 agencies partner with the food bank to provide food service to community members in need. Catoosa County is home to three partner agencies, and Walker County is home to five more, all of which ensure residents do not go without meals.

"It is great news that we will have expanded services at the food bank," Jensen said Tuesday. "It is a little bit unfortunate due to COVID that we have to have it, but we want to make sure we are taking care of our citizens, so it's great to win, great to expand and great to keep our people fed."

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The grant was secured through a partnership of Whitfield County, the Dalton-Whitfield Joint Development Authority and the Chattanooga Area Food Bank.

Contact Kelcey Caulder at 423-757-6327 or kcaulder@timesfreepress.com.

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