People, in the eastern part of Hamilton County, who struggle to put food on their tables now have a place to go for help close to home. A new food bank in Apison opened its doors Thursday to help those in need.

For the past few years Heaven's Bounty was operating out of the home of a local church-goer, but the group needed more space to distribute food. Now the new space is up and running and ready to keep serving. For the first time in its new Apison facility, the Heaven's Bounty staff spends Thursday giving away food. For director Deborah Burns, she couldn't be happier.

"It's a dream come true for us. We're helping so many people that just cannot make it from one pay day to another, one paycheck to another," says Burns.

With community help the past three months--donated appliances, time volunteered remodeling--the non-profit food bank could finally open. Several area grocery stores donate produce regularly, some with just enough shelf life to last a few days.

"What we get is produce that, it says, sell by a certain date. They have to pull it off the shelves," explains Burns.

Those in need get it for free off the food bank shelves, enough to fill a milk crate. Then they take it home bagged or boxed. Heaven's Bounty purchases other items like dry and frozen goods from the Chattanooga Area Food Bank. People can buy these for pennies on the dollar.

"This will stretch their buying dollar," adds Burns.

Regina Milner lives close by near Collegedale and used to have to drive to Chattanooga for help. She has to feed herself, a husband, and six grand kids. Basic necessities are now just a short distance away.

"There's bread. There's vegetables. We're Seventh Day Adventists, therefore vegetables are a great part of our diet," says Milner.

Hamilton County Trustee and Apison resident Bill Hullander owns the building and discounted the rent which church donations cover.  He's proud of the community effort.

"Something that government loves is to see churches and organizations like this come along and help folks," says Hullander.

Burns also says she hopes to add a mobile service in the future to bring food to low income neighbors who are homebound.

Heaven's Bounty is located at 11302 First Street in Apison and is open from 1:30-3:00 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays.