June 16, 2008

Soup Kitchen Reopens Doors

By Rob Messinger, The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio

Jun. 16--The city's busiest soup kitchen will be back in business today, thanks to donations from friends and strangers.

Holy Family Community Kitchen and Pantry, which serves about 5,200 meals a week, shut down on May 28 after metal thieves made away with the compressors that kept two walk-in refrigerators cold.

New compressors, plus a fence to protect them, were installed early last week, but the Franklinton soup kitchen had several other bumps in the road before it could reopen.

One compressor wasn't working -- perhaps the result of a lightning strike during last week's storms -- and Holy Family officials discovered that a dishwasher had failed, too. "We are God's favorite church," joked Sheila Lutz, Holy Family's development director. "Even with all of this, many blessings have come."

The church has received more than $40,000 in gifts since the thefts, Lutz said. Johnson Controls provided and installed new compressors. Republic Waste Service built the protective fence. And TAT Ristorante di Famiglia and Phillips Original Coney Island are bringing food for the reopening today.

Jim Corrova, who owns TAT Ristorante along with his wife, Dolores, said he has been donating food to Holy Family ever since he first saw who the soup kitchen benefits.

"It breaks your heart to see all those kids ... barely struggling along," Corrova said.

TAT Ristorante is usually closed on Mondays, but Corrova and his employees will be cooking enough food for 300 or 400 people, including rigatoni with meat sauce, salad, and bread or rolls.

Beyond the big gifts, Holy Family has seen small gestures of generosity, too, Lutz said. One little boy, who had eaten at the soup kitchen several times, donated the 52 cents he had made by recycling cans, she said.

"The theft of metal led to the gift of metal," Lutz said.

Holy Family Community Kitchen and Pantry, at 57 S. Grubb St., provides a free, hot meal to anyone in need between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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