Outreach Inc. seeks site for new Wichita Meal Packaging Center

UPDATED — Outreach Inc. an Iowa-based nonprofit that organizes volunteers to pack meals for the hungry, is on a tight deadline to open its new Wichita Meal Packaging Center.

First, though, it has to find space for it.

“We’re getting to that point of having our location where it will be a fixed base where people can come,” says Rick McNary, vice president of strategic partnerships.

Outreach Inc. has been operating in Kansas for a year and a half without its own space.

“Wichita will serve as a hub for us to do our mobile meal packagings,” McNary says. “The Wichita base will be able to supply … the Midwest.”

McNary says he is seriously considering three Wichita sites but is open to others. The building needs to be at least 10,000 square feet and have ample parking. He says he’d like the space to be near Wichita State University or downtown.

“The challenge with downtown is finding a facility that would have the adequate parking because we’ll be bringing in thousands of volunteers.”

He anticipates 15,000 people will come to pack meals in the new center’s first year.

“I also do a lot of work with college students across the state,” McNary says of possibly wanting to be near WSU.

“Part of our vision also is to engage the public and private sector of Wichita into becoming a hunger-free community.”

In addition to needing lots of parking, McNary prefers that the new space is fairly open and as economical as possible.

“We run a very lean organization,” he says.

In 2012, the nonprofit’s last audited year, McNary says overhead for the organization was not quite 5 percent of its total operating budget. He says in that time, nearly half a million meals were packaged across the state.

McNary says Outreach Inc.’s mission is to provide food, safe water, medicine and education to people in need nationally and abroad.

“That ratio has changed considerably in the last couple of years,” he says of who the nonprofit has been helping.

In 2013, about 80 percent of Outreach Inc.’s meals stayed in the United States, McNary says.

He says he hopes to have the new Outreach home ready by early June.

Is that possible without a deal for space yet?

“Well, we dream big,” McNary says. “It’s our goal.”