Concerns about the economic tremors from Wall Street are stewing on 84 Broadway, the location of New Haven’s Community Soup Kitchen.
Community Soup Kitchen and its subsidiaries, which serve breakfast and lunch five days a week to anyone in need, rely on donations from individuals and organizations. The Soup Kitchen recently received a $40,000 grant from the Kraft Employees Fund designated for food purchases, but the grant will likely be used to compensate for increased expenses and a reduction in anticipated donations rather than the expansion of the kitchen’s offerings.
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“The grant will help offset increases in added costs [of operation],” said David O’Sullivan, the Community Soup Kitchen coordinator.
He said some of these increased expenses stem from two main problems — more people coming to the Soup Kitchen and the increase in price of food.
Around Connecticut, O’Sullivan said, New Haven is rumored to give the most aid and services to the poor. He said he thinks this has contributed to the recent influx of people to the kitchen, he said. He said he has also noted an increase in two demographics previously absent from the Soup Kitchen — young people and Hispanics.
In her press release, President of the Community Soup Kitchen’s Board of Directors Lucille Alderman said the Community Soup Kitchen views the grant as an affirmation of the role the kitchen plays. She also noted the rising troubles the operation faces.
“So far this year we have seen 12 percent more people coming to our doors,” Alderman said in the press release. “Food and supplies are getting more expensive, and of course, the current economic crisis is only making the situation worse.”
O’Sullivan said he attributed the high price of food to high gas prices. Even though the price of gas is now coming down, he said, it will still take a while for food prices to reflect it. Even the canned vegetables the kitchen buys have gone up in price, he added.
A decrease in the amount of private contributions because of the current state of the economy is also likely, O’Sullivan said.
Carol Coleman, an employee of the Community Soup Kitchen, said she was personally relieved and happy to hear that the kitchen received the grant. Without it, Coleman said, she had heard her job would no longer exist.
Within the last three months, Coleman, who has worked at the Soup Kitchen for two and a half years, said she has also noticed a new group of people coming to the kitchen.
“I listen to a lot of [the people who come to the Community Soup Kitchen], and they be hungry,” Coleman said. “People tell them that we have food here on Broadway and the door is open.”
The Community Soup Kitchen applies to receive multiple grants each year. Its latest — a first from the Kraft Employees Fund — is the largest one ever received. The grants the kitchen typically receives total to approximately $10,000 each year.