The past 34 years have been quite a journey. From the first donated item to our 200 millionth distributed lb., people like you have been there every step of the way in pursuit of a common goal: to feed the local hungry. Take a look back and learn about some of the key milestones that helped us get where we are today.
In 1982, a group of local leaders approached Mike Firmin with the idea of creating a food bank to help our community face the challenge of hunger head on. They had enough money to pay his salary for one month. Mike brought the job opportunity to the Lord in prayer, and received the answer that the Food Bank was going to awaken God’s people to the Gospel obligation to feed the hungry. With a living faith in God’s provision, Mike answered the call to serve.
Starting in borrowed office space, the Greater Augusta Food Bank (as it was then called) found its first permanent home in a shuttered dance club. 50 pound blocks of chocolate were the first donation to arrive. Their first forklift was gas powered and could only be operated in brief spurts at the risk of suffocating the staff with its exhaust fumes. This tiny seed has grown over the years to become a logistics operation in two states with three warehouse facilities that enclose more than 44,000 square feet of food storage space. In 1982, the Food Bank distributed 238,945 lbs. of food. In 2015, Golden Harvest distributed more than that every week. The service territory expanded from Augusta into rural Georgia and across the river into South Carolina. Currently, more than 300 organizations in 30 counties partner with Golden Harvest to serve the poor.
In the early days, Golden Harvest and other community leaders recognized that the homeless in downtown Augusta desperately needed food assistance. The Food Bank worked with local church leaders and formed “The Master’s Table” soup kitchen as a ministry to the homeless that rotated through church halls staffed by volunteers. The Master’s Table has been one of Golden Harvest’s longest running programs, and just moved into a beautiful new facility on the corner of 7th and Fenwick Streets. Each day, more than 300 people come to the Master’s Table for a free meal and a friendly face. Golden Harvest also operates the Senior Food Box Program and the BackPack Program to provide supplemental food to the elderly and to school children.
In 2012, Golden Harvest entered into a new season with the retirement of founding Executive Director Mike Firmin after 30 years of diligent service. Executive Director Travis McNeal now mans the helm of the Food Bank and faces a very different world. Under his leadership, Golden Harvest will continue to build the support system the hungry in our community needs for many years to come.