Feeding SWVA’s Community Solutions Center (CSC) opened in May 2018 in Northwest Roanoke to spark change in a community that was experiencing crime and poverty. The center, once the highest crime location in Northwest Roanoke, has been transformed into a facility that provides meal production training to unemployed and under-employed adults, as well as community meeting space and an outreach space for Roanoke Police to strengthen relationships between the police and the community.
Not only is the CSC providing students with a solid career opportunity in the food service industry, but it is also feeding hungry children in the process. Students enrolled in the CSC’s Meal Production Training Program prepare hundreds of meals per day that are distributed to at-risk children in Roanoke City’s after-school and summer feeding programs, The CSC’s focus on fresh, locally prepared meals for those in need helps address the link between good nutrition and healthy communities. As graduate Charles Preston said, in this program you learn to “incorporate new skills, work as a team, and help the community, all at the same time.”
Before it became a high-crime nightclub, the location that is now the CSC was once the home of an iconic, family-owned business. Lowell’s Restaurant was a thriving business in the late 80s and early 90s, serving some of the best soul food in the city. It was a place where family and friends could enjoy a relaxing Sunday afternoon.
Years later, after the property was sold and fell into disrepair, Roanoke Police Captain Rick Morrison rallied members of the community to come together to try and find a way to take back the property. With time, hard work, and dedication, a large-scale partnership was formed between members of the Northwest community, Feeding SWVA, the City of Roanoke, Food Lion, and Roanoke Police – and the Community Solutions Center was born.
The Community Solutions Center is home to programs including:
- Meal Production Training Program
- Children’s Feeding Programs & Meal Distribution
- Food Farmacy
- Kid’s Farmers Markets (Shop with a Cop)
- Youth Culinary Classes in partnership with 4H
- Hunger Free NW Coalition
- Youth, Adult and Senior Nutrition Education Classes
- Community Solutions Center Council – Learn more (A link should be provided to a page that features CSC Council info and membership)
In addition to the programs that are part of the offerings at the Community Solutions Center, the space is also used to host community meetings. The Community Solutions Center has hosted meetings for elected officials, local non-profits, business leaders, community residents, Roanoke City Police Department and more. Meetings and gatherings that are held at the CSC must be focused on addressing systemic, community issues and creating solutions.
For more information regarding the Community Solutions Center, feel free to contact Director, Cheryl Mosley at 540-521-2242. To learn more about or to tour the Meal Production Training Program click on the link above or contact us at 540-521-2242.