Eric Schmitz

Eric Schmitz stands on the construction site for the Denton Community Food Center on the Serve Denton campus Tuesday in Denton. Schmitz has donated $250,000 toward completion of the center as well as helping to keep it stocked with food.

The Denton Community Food Center will more than triple its capacity to help families in need when its new facility opens in June on the Serve Denton campus.

The new center will be named for donor Eric Schmitz, who has pledged $250,000 to fund the construction and keep the center stocked with food. In turn, the center will be named for his family.

“I wanted to do something for the community to give back, and to me the most basic level of humanity is having something to eat,” said Schmitz, a fifth-generation Denton community member. “I’m proud to be associated with this and devoting my resources to it. I want to make sure no child goes unfed and families can eat if they’re going through hard times.”

The Denton Community Food Center is currently located at 109 W. Sycamore St., its seventh home in 40 years, said Tom Newell, the organization’s chairman. With just 3,000 square feet and no refrigeration or freezer storage at the center, he’s worked to find the organization a new home over the past eight years.

Since the center started in the current location 15 years ago, service has nearly tripled, he said. Annually, the center sees about 9,000 visits and serves roughly 8,000 adults and 5,000 children, he estimated.

“The single biggest thing we’re looking forward to is being able to take a pallet of things inside,” Newell said. “Right now, we don’t have doors big enough to take a pallet inside.”

This is a growing problem as the center has worked to build relationships with the trucking companies that deliver food to the three grocery distribution centers in town: Aldi, WinCo Foods and Target. If a pallet of food is partially damaged, will expire before it can be distributed or is no longer needed, the center “rescues” the food to then give to families in need.

Inside the new space, which will be built at the Serve Denton center at 306 N. Loop 288, the ceilings will be 14 feet high to accommodate more storage. Officials envision the space will look more like a warehouse grocery store, like Sam’s Club — big enough for clients to choose what they want to take home from a list of available goods, Newell said.

“I wasn’t sure I would ever see it happen in my lifetime, but it’s finally coming together,” Newell said. “It’s a very positive thing for our organization, which is all volunteers, and totally supported by the community.”

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @jennafduncan.

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