When the doors opened to the Mary Barden Keegan Hunger Relief Center twoyears ago, it came as a result of hard work by staff, volunteers and donors tocreate a first-of-its-kind hunger relief center.
Executive director Amy Ragan saysground had not yet been broken when the building's design underwent modifications.
"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 ourdesign a little bit and to say 'Alright, how can we better prepare this facility so that it is betterable to respond to a disaster.' It always could have, but this gave us the opportunity to rethinkthat, and in doing so, that's when we redesigned windows. They all face north. The facility sitsup 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 commercialequipment 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 upevery week. Once these meals are prepared, we put them in boxes like the ones we have overthere on that table, and from there, they're going to the freezer. Ready to heat up? Ready to heatup."
Network director Ragan says everyone is proud of the building that houses allaspects, 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 millionindividual 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.