Community Solution Center aims to repurpose Roanoke building known for crime activity

ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - Feeding America Southwest Virginia, Goodwill Industries of the Valleys and the Roanoke Police Department have teamed up to launch the Community Solutions Center in Roanoke.

The groups will host a community meeting on Thursday to seek input and volunteers.

The Community Solutions Center is expected to go in the former Ms. Choc's Restaurant off Melrose Avenue. The location has been the site of shootings, stabbings and drug activity over the years, according to Roanoke police.

"It was every weekend out here people being shot or stabbed, people going to jail. Year after year this is what we had," said Capt. Rick Morrison.

Police say they used traditional policing to stop the violence, but to no avail. That's when they got together with a coalition of community members to come up with the center.

The goal is to re-purpose the high-crime property into "something good," explained Pam Irvine with Feeding America Southwest Virginia.

"Solutions to some community problems here and a community kitchen that will provide nutritional food for children in Roanoke City," Irvine said.

The space will be renovated and turned into a training kitchen which will offer employment, training in food service and meals for Feeding America's Children's Foodie Truck, which will launch in May.

Food cranked out of the kitchen, Irvine said, will provide meals for the agency's after-school and evening and weekend programs.

Feeding America says another goal is to promote childhood health and wellness by increasing nutritional quality of the food it distributes.

The groups received $250,00 from the City of Roanoke to allow it to purchase the property. Feeding America currently has an option to buy the property, but has 90 days to raise the money needed to renovate the property.

The community meeting will place at the Goodwill Community Room, 2502 Melrose Avenue, NW, on Thursday at 6 p.m.

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