NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – Renovations are now complete at the Second Harvest Food Bank in Elmwood.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Friday to unveil the Gayle and Tom Benson Food and Nutrition Center.

The food bank’s president and CEO predicts they will now double their distribution to 70 million meals a year.

“We can ensure a more comfortable work environment for the volunteers and staff members in a climate-controlled warehouse that protects food safety,” Second Harvest Food Bank President & CEO Natalie Jayroe said. “We can provide a place for staff and volunteers who go to work immediately following a disaster.”

The multi-million-dollar food bank was made possible by the Gayle and Tom Benson Charitable Foundation and countless other donors.

“I am humbled to hep play a small part in helping Second Harvest build and maintain the infrastructure they need to do their critical work in feeding the more vulnerable people in our community,” Gayle Benson said.

The renovated food bank will also help partners of second harvest to fight food insecurity and create food access to the most vulnerable.

“I don’t turn down anything. If Natalie sent it to me, we’re going to distribute it,” Giving Hope NOLA’s Betty Thomas said. “We’re going to get it to the people, and I thank Second Harvest for the opportunity of being their partners, and they are truly a blessing to Giving Hope.”

Friday marked the 40th anniversary of Second Harvest Food Bank, an idea that Archbishop Phillip Hannan brought to fruition.

“We come together to carry on that wonderful dream that Archbishop Hannan had years ago, and Natalie, I thank you and your staff and the board for carrying on that dream,” Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond said.