New Facility Increases the Space and Ranking of Food Bank

The Houston Food Bank is one big step closer to becoming the largest food bank in the nation. Today, the bank formally announced it has bought a warehouse that will eventually allow twice as much food to make its way to the hungry across southeast Texas. David Pitman has more.
The warehouse complex that the Houston Food Bank is moving into used to belong to Sysco Foods.

The new facility will nearly quadruple the amount of space the Food Bank currently has to store, prepare, and ship food.

It will also provide space for a thousand volunteers a day, up from the current max of 300.

But, before any of that happens, Food Bank board Chair Scott McClelland says the complex needs to undergo an extensive year-long renovation.

“To not just be a food distribution warehouse, but also be a place that can involve a lot of people in the community to help us end hunger, and be a place they can be proud of and someplace when they volunteer they can say ‘y’know, I made a difference.’”

Sysco sold the complex off the East Freeway and Gellhorn for $17 million — five million off the original asking price.

The Food Bank began raising the $55 million it needs for the overall project three years ago, not long before the start of the recession.

“Amazingly, we have not been told no on any single call that we’ve made. Which is a testament to two things — one is, how important the city of Houston views the Food Bank and the role it plays. But also, just how generous the people of Houston are when they see a real need.”

McClelland says he’s confident the Food Bank will be able to raise the remaining four million dollars it needs by the end of the year. The new warehouse is expected to be up and running in the spring of 2011.
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David Pitman

Local Host, Morning Edition

The one question David hears most often isn't "What is it like to work for an NPR member station?" or "Have you ever met Terry Gross?" (he has)...