With a large and ever growing number of Midland based volunteers and clients, the new West Texas Food Bank (WTFB) Community and Volunteer Center provides a local physical presence for both those who wish to give help and those who wish to get help. While the Odessa facility serves as both a distribution hub and volunteer center for the 19 counties that the WTFB serves, the Midland facility is able to focus on community engagement through volunteerism and educational resources.

The new facility was made possible through the donation of a 50-year-old abandoned building, along with 1.3 acres of land. The existing metal building was repurposed into a volunteer warehouse with processing rooms and a volunteer break room.

Project Feature: West Texas Food Bank from Parkhill, Smith & Cooper on Vimeo.

Built adjacent to the existing facility, the new addition serves as the main entry to the building and provides new local offices, a client choice pantry and a demonstration kitchen. The demonstration kitchen will be an integral part of the SNAP-Ed Nutrition Education Program where the community will be invited to the food bank to learn how to prepare healthy meals. The kitchen, which includes four cooking stations, will also be used with other collaborative agencies in the Permian Basin to teach cooking and nutrition classes.

In keeping with the “re-use” eco-friendly ideology, repurposed wood pallets were used as an architectural feature in the lobby and repurposed fifty gallon drums serve as light fixtures in the main hallway. A rainwater collection tank and solar panel system also provide sustainable resources that help reduce overhead cost to the food bank.

One of the signature features of the building is the use of the color green, which represents both freshness and hope. The green is also used as a wayfinding device for visitors and pieces of recycled green glass were placed into the sealed concrete floors.

Probably the most unique addition to the Volunteer & Community Center are the two greenhouses. While one is designed as traditional greenhouse, the other will certainly draw attention as it will be used to grow vegetation year-round. Called an earth-bermed greenhouse or partially underground, this greenhouse allows cool weather crops to be grown during the winter as well as the summer. The greenhouses will be manned and operated by the Permian Basin Master Gardeners who will use them to teach and educate the community about growing healthy food in West Texas. Lastly, the outdoor playground will give parents the opportunity to come volunteer and have a safe place for the children to play.