YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Saint Vincent de Paul soup kitchen will be closed for the foreseeable future, following more structural problems with the building.
“Because of that, we can’t open. Insurance problems and safety problems. We’re here to help the poor, not hurt them,” said Thomas Williams, president of the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
The building was closed last month when the ceiling of the second floor collapsed.
Inspectors found more serious issues in the basement when looking at the damage last month. Part of the problem is studs in the basement that have to be fixed.
Leaders arranged for the food to be served outdoors the last time the building was closed but decided it would be dangerous to do that long-term.
“We used to do it across the street in the parking lot but that’s not safe over there and then we have to have our people walking back and forth across the street. For the time being, we’re going to be closed,” Williams said.
As of now, there have been no alternative preparations made to serve food.
Saint Vincent de Paul is waiting on estimates to fix things. A contractor has been called in to give an approximate cost for the repairs. Then there’s making sure there is money to pay for everything.
Williams said they are hoping to get enough donations to fund the repairs.
“We do a little bit of fundraising, what we can, but we’re mostly an organization that takes donations,” he said. “We get donations to stay open and that’s where we’d have to get the funding.”
Our Community Kitchen — which serves breakfast and lunch — is just a few blocks away from Saint Vincent de Paul.
“We are probably serving a lot of the same people on a consistent basis but there were a few more people in here today already,” said Skip Barone, manager at Our Community Kitchen.
He said there’s no reason for anyone in the Youngstown area to go hungry.
“We serve a hot, nourishing meal six days a week. St. John’s church serves a lunch on Sundays so seven days a week, people are covered.”
Our Community Kitchen opened last July.
“We’ve already done over 100,000 meals so we’re very proud of that,” Barone said.
It’s celebrating one year of feeding the community with an outreach program on July 29.
“We’re going to give away school supplies, underwear, toiletries, clothes, food, just a little bit of everything and the whole town is invited,” Barone said.
Our Community Kitchen is accepting donations for the outreach program. Local businesses are also helping out, collecting items for the drive.