Lancaster County Council of Churches (June 7, 2014)

Rick Rodgers, left, looks over food items with Rev. Randy Riggs, center, and the Rev. Scott Fisher at the Lancaster County Council of Churches food hub at 344 N. Marshall St.

The former Gunzenhauser Bakery once housed horses and carriages at 812 N. Queen St. to deliver bread.

"Now it's going to be a place to distribute food," says the Rev. Randy Riggs.

In December, the Lancaster County Council of Churches purchased the former warehouse for $635,000. By the end of the year, the faith-based nonprofit organization plans to open the new LCCC Community Food and Resource Distribution Hub there.

Riggs, former LCCC board president, co-chairs the capital campaign to raise $2.5 million to renovate the 27,000-square-foot building, with 20,000 square feet more than its current location at 344 N. Marshall St.

Besides a new food hub, with a refrigerator and freezer, the building will house a kitchen for nutrition and financial classes, an expanded clothing bank, a client lobby, a room for the PA Workwear program, offices and a garage with spaces for nine vehicles for the Wheels to Work program.

The council has $1.2 million in hand toward its goal — a substantial percentage of it donated by Rick and Jessica Rodgers, of Rodgers & Associates Financial Planners, 2025 Lititz Pike. To make a donation, call 283-0744, ext. 101.

Last month the council honored the Rodgers, members of Lancaster's Faith Bible Fellowship Church, with the 2014 Steven Mentzer Award for Excellence in Ecumenical Witness at its annual celebration breakfast.

Jessica Rodgers is on the planning committee for the Hub project.

Rick Rodgers says he is excited about providing fresh produce and meat from Pennsylvania's Garden Spot, which has been the Rev. Scott Fischer's dream since he became executive director of the council 10 years ago.

Also honored at the breakfast were the many hundreds of volunteers who run the council's Winter Shelter for Women and Children at the YWCS, its community meals held throughout the county and its in-house services.

"It will be a wonderful space," Fischer says of the new location. "We'll have more opportunities for hands on to affect lives. It will also be about health and self-sufficiency, helping people on their way to independence."

"As an example," Fischer says, "now any place people without food in the house go to, they receive food (usually processed food in cans and boxes) and go away with food to address their immediate hunger.

"In the new space, volunteers can meet with them for one-on-one consultations … . In the process, we can give them hope. It's about encouraging people, walking with them."

Riggs explained that the hub will have a positive impact on all the food banks in the county. For example, if a small food bank in East Petersburg wants to give out fresh food, volunteers there usually buy it because the only other alternative is to drive to the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank in Harrisburg.

"Now they can drive to Lancaster," Riggs says. "We're partners, citing John 17:11' … so that they may be one as we are one.' That's always been our goal. But sometimes we don't look like one. Instead of a cruise ship, we're like life boats. This will connect all the churches. Yes, they may not be one in theology. But they are one in wanting to feed the hungry."