United Food Bank doubling its size - East Valley Tribune: News

United Food Bank doubling its size

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Posted: Tuesday, December 29, 2009 7:04 pm | Updated: 3:09 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

When the East Valley's largest food bank found itself a bit bloated and in need of more room and growing space, the answer came in a location that is twice the current size.

The United Food Bank, a hub supplying bulk-food products to about 260 charities and food banks across the East Valley, Gila County and Pinal County, as well as Indian communities in and outside of the state, is simply moving west by a few blocks.

Bob Evans, the food bank's president, said the solution came in the form of a nearly 50,000-square-foot warehouse near Extension and Broadway roads in Mesa.

The hulking structure is on a tiny street and stands twice the size of the food bank's present digs.

The soon-to-be former address is 358 E. Javelina Ave. Evans said the food bank had been there since 1987. He expects that a big change in 2010 will place it in a better fit at 245 S. Nina Drive by April.

The move will cost $3.1 million. Evans said the move into the new facility has been a work in progress ever since the food bank began renting storage space in the sprawling building.

The soon-to-be-sprawling storage space at the new site is in stark contrast to the current home of the food bank. A tour through that warehouse reveals food kept on pallets stacked mere inches from the ceiling.

"We don't even have wiggle room here," said Evans, at the current site. "We're running out of space for the food."

Joel Lockwood of Queen Creek, who works as director of warehouse and transportation for the food bank, said moving all of the donations around the state and beyond takes a fleet of trucks, and time management.

"We have climate control in the current warehouse, and we have to track dates we receive food and dates of expiration," he said.

The new building will have a freezer nearly the size of the current warehouse.

Work crews have been on the job there for less than two weeks, breaking down walls and building them, transforming the massive space that takes up most of a block into an indoor freezer bigger than a house, a football field of dry goods, outside loading ramps and offices.

The superintendent at the site, Ted Sanchez, was overseeing everything and hopes to be done a lot sooner than the April deadline, he said.

"I hope to finish sooner than expected," Sanchez said.

The building is getting entirely tailored to fit the form and function of the food bank's steadily growing responsibilities.

Sanchez said the new home was appropriately, and coincidentally, a former food company.

The food bank will fill the shoes of the Rosarita Mexican Foods Company, which also needed tons of space for storing frozen foods when it was there.

"That's interesting that it was a former food company," Sanchez noted of the previous tenant.

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