Pat Hernandez takes us on a tour.
When the doors opened to the Mary Barden Keegan Hunger Relief Center two
years ago, it came as a result of hard work by staff, volunteers and donors to
create a first-of-its-kind hunger relief center.
Executive director Amy Ragan says
ground had not yet been broken when the building’s design underwent
“We were in the final design stages when the hurricane Katrina and the Rita hit. Of course,
End Hunger Network was very involved in the response to that, but it made us rethink our
design a little bit and to say ‘Alright, how can we better prepare this facility so that it is better
able to respond to a disaster.’ It always could have, but this gave us the opportunity to rethink
that, and in doing so, that’s when we redesigned windows. They all face north. The facility sits
up very high so that if there was flooding, it would still be able to function and run for the community.”
She lead me on a tour and straight to the heart of the facility.
“This is our kitchen, thirty-seven hundred square feet. It’s a commercial kitchen with commercial
equipment and it is in this facility we’ve got the production tables, we’ve got an oven, blast chillers,
commercial equipment. We also have some tilt skillets and a kettle.”
Food preparations are the responsibility of Head Chef Jose Montoya.
“Is it a specific meal that you all plan every day?” “It all depends, we have a menu that we come up
every week. Once these meals are prepared, we put them in boxes like the ones we have over
there on that table, and from there, they’re going to the freezer. Ready to heat up? Ready to heat
Network director Ragan says everyone is proud of the building that houses all
aspects, from administration to production.
“There is not a facility like it in the Americas’ Second Harvest Network anywhere in the country.
What’s unique about ours is that it is such a high volume facility. We produced over a million
individual meals out of this facility last year alone.”
She says the facility has room to expand if need be, providing the difference
between hunger and hope for thousands every day.
Pat Hernandez. KUHF- Houston Public Radio News.