Last updated: February 19. 2013 11:43PM - 658 Views

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JENKINS TWP. ‚?? Mericle Commercial Real Estate gave the Commission on Economic Opportunity a day-after-Christmas present the nonprofit organization will never forget.

The real estate company donated a 6.35-acre parcel on Research Drive in its CenterPoint Commerce & Trade East to CEO to serve as the location for the construction of a regional food bank serving Luzerne, Lackawanna, Susquehanna and Wyoming counties.

According to a CEO press release, the Wilkes-Barre-based organization will construct a 50,220-square-foot warehouse and distribution center on the land. The facility will house the operations of the nonprofit Weinberg Northeast Regional Food Bank, which is currently located on Amber Lane in the city.

Construction of the new facility is expected to begin as soon as possible, though it was unclear in the release Wednesday evening what will happen to the Amber Lane facility.

A message left with Rich Kutz, the Weinberg Northeast Regional Food Bank director, was not immediately returned Wednesday evening.

‚??Mericle not only donated the parcel to us, but did so with extensive site work already completed,‚?Ě said Kutz. ‚??This helps make the project possible. Mericle‚??s donation is a key part in realizing our dream of having a state-of-the-art food bank. We are excited to get started.‚?Ě

Food will not be distributed to the general public at the site but will be distributed to the food bank‚??s member agencies for ultimate distribution to the public at off-site locations. The food bank provides food to food pantries, charity kitchens, homeless shelters, senior citizen programs, day care centers, group homes for the disabled, children‚??s camps, churches, local governments, housing authorities and others.

Kutz said Mericle‚??s donation comes at a critical time in the organization‚??s history.

‚??When the Weinberg Northeast Regional Food Bank was dedicated in 1996, we had 18 member agencies,‚?Ě he said in the news release. ‚??Today, we serve close to 140 agencies at 177 different sites. The demand for emergency food in Northeastern Pennsylvania continues to grow dramatically and we have outgrown our facility.‚?Ě

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