The next phase of a multi-tier effort to bring food to the students and those needing assistance in the greater Battle Creek region, will soon be underway. Leaders of the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi, owners of The Fire Hub and FireKeepers Casino Hotel, joined tribal and community members to announce that construction will soon start on a greenhouse, which will grow vegetables with the goal of delivering a free salad bar to area school students. The greenhouse will be constructed on tribal lands at the Pine Creek Indian Reservation, with a goal of offering the NHBP membership and Athens school students the opportunity to be the first beneficiaries of the produce.
“The Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi is honored to lead this amazing community initiative,” stated NHBP Tribal Council Chairperson, Jamie Stuck. “Supporting the local community has always been a priority for us. Utilizing the Pine Creek Reservation to share in our culture and provide nutritious food for those in need makes it more meaningful to the tribe.”
The more than 5,000 square foot greenhouse is designed to blend seamlessly with its surroundings, and will minimally impact the landscape. Produce will include micro-greens, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers, irrigated by hydro and aquaponics. The project will add six full-time jobs as well as 10 temporary construction jobs.
“The tribe and the casino continue to set the tone for the entire gaming industry with the investment in The Fire Hub and its adjoining Kendall Street Pantry,” stated Kathy George, FireKeepers CEO. “The restaurant has brought a vital new eatery to the city while the pantry has served more than 3,500 people more than 80,000 pounds of food. Our team members regularly support food drives to contribute to the pantry and take great pride in it.”
The greenhouse will add to FireKeepers already revolutionary food reclamation program, which has provided more than 10 tons of food rescued from the casino’s food outlets since starting the program in 2016. Unserved, prepared food is repackaged and frozen then distributed to the Food Bank to help those less fortunate.
“We are all really excited about this new endeavor and eagerly anticipate the start of construction in the coming weeks,” stated Michael McFarlen FireKeepers VP of Food and Beverage, and Fire Hub visionary. “This is the culmination of our plan to simultaneously create a successful restaurant product and help the community in an impactful way. We look forward to watching the project grow.”
The Fire Hub restaurant opened in April 2017 creating a much needed new eatery in downtown Battle Creek. The historic building also houses The Kendall Street Pantry, an agency of the Food Bank of South Central Michigan, which provides food for those in need every week. Eighty percent of The Fire Hub’s proceeds are pooled into a Community Fund and distributed yearly to benefit local charities. This past year, the fund raised more than $15,000 for the Food Bank. The location is Fire Station #4, located at Kendall and Dickman streets in Battle Creek. This fire station, which opened in July 1904, was designed by Hubert C. Scofield and was one of the last to still use the horse-drawn equipment. After nearly eighty years of service, the fire station closed in January of 1983.