Feeding America community center breaks ground in Melrose neighborhood

The Community Solutions Center will be a distribution site and offer job skills.

ROANOKE, Va. – A new community center designed to curb violence and help the hungry breaks ground in Roanoke. 

The Community Solutions Center on Melrose Avenue is a joint effort between Feeding America, Goodwill, Roanoke police and Food Lion.

The center will house a production kitchen for meal distribution and Goodwill Industries will be offering job training for citizens.

Monday, local officials, Feeding America representatives, and local residents broke ground on what used to be Ms. Choc's lounge on Melrose Avenue. And while the renovations haven't officially started, locals and officials are already praising the new addition to the neighborhood.

"We're just so excited about this. This is really going to make a fantastic difference beyond this community, far beyond this community, so we're very excited about it," said Claudia Whitworth, a local business owner. 

"This being here will definitely change the outlook, it will change the look of the neighborhood. It will change the feeling. It will give people hope. That's the only thing we have is hope. As long as we can continue to give people hope, they'll continue to try to change and do better," said Grover Price, director of the Hope Center. 

"It helps us realize that you can achieve the impossible almost and that other people care. I think it will represent to the community that people here care," said Pamela Irvine, president of Feeding America Southwest Virginia. 

"We knew many, many years ago that we can't solve it all or be it all. It takes all of us, so the more that we can get out here in the community and break down those barriers, it's a win for everybody, especially for us," said Capt. Rick Morrison, with the Roanoke City Police Department.  

Feeding America staff say they are planning to be open by summer 2018.

Funding for the project is coming from a combination of a board member's generous donation, Roanoke city grants, and a $350,000 gift from Food Lion...the first of its kind in the commonwealth.