FLINT (WJRT) -
(06/03/14) - The old Peerless Mattress factory in Flint looks a little different these days. Renovations are moving along, as the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan converts it into its new Hunger Solution Center.
"It's going to be prettier, it's going to be more functional, but it is a reality. We're going to have an aesthetically pleasing building that does one important thing. It's going to feed hungry people," said Bill Kerr, Food Bank of Eastern Michigan president.
Over the last two weeks, the 72,000 square foot facility has been gutted. New walls have been built and part of the roof has been ripped out, making way for construction of a second story.
"I come over every day and look at the fellas doing it, and they're all local companies doing the work, which is good and amazing for our community. These people are working themselves hard," Kerr said.
The most dramatic change inside this old mattress factory so far is the refrigeration area for produce. The walls are already up. This will allow the Food Bank to process 12 million pounds of produce a year, which is eight million pounds more than what they currently process.
"Right now, we have farmers on the east side of the state from Capac to Imlay City that are growing produce for the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan. That produce is brought from their field into the Hunger Solution Center. It's repackaged into family-sized bags," Kerr said.
While that's all happening inside, crews are about to start on the outside as well.
"Where the truck wells are being rebuilt, and on the front of the building with the parking lot, and all that, where people are going to say, 'Man, that's happening,'" Kerr said.
Then there's the task of finding the money to make this happen. The Food Bank is inching closer, though, toward its $5.2 million goal.
"It's been more work than I ever thought it would be, but now we're at the home stretch. $500,000 more, October, the dream becomes a reality," Kerr said.
Once the center opens, the Food Bank expects to distribute 30 million pounds of food a year, across 22 counties. That's up from 23 million last year.
For construction updates on the Hunger Solution Center, click HERE.