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Published: Friday, 1/28/2011

South Toledo offering free meals to needy

Tabletop food service has resumed in South Toledo for people in need, filling a void left by the closing of the former Good Samaritan Outreach Center at 1108 Broadway.

Free hot breakfasts and dinners are being provided on a limited basis now at the South Toledo Community Center, 1411 Broadway, and the nearby Vision Ministries, 1630 Broadway, with Tuesday night dinners at the Lido Lanes Bowling Center, 865 South Ave.

Volunteers still are being sought for at least 17 of the monthly time slots, Dan Rogers, Cherry Street Mission Ministries president and chief executive officer, said.

He said he is recruiting more church groups or other service organizations to fill those slots.

Breakfasts are served from 8 to 9:30 a.m. daily with the exception of Saturday mornings, when that meal is moved up to a 7:30 a.m. starting time and ends at 8:30 a.m.

Dinners are from 5 to 6 p.m.

A schedule compiled by Renee Monday, the mission's director of food services, shows volunteers are needed for dinners on three of four Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday nights each month, as well as all four breakfasts on Fridays and Saturdays.

During a brainstorming session in the community center Thursday, Mr. Rogers told about a dozen area church leaders that Cherry Street wants a greater segment of the community engaged.

He said he hopes that it will lead to deeper relationships and more empathy for impoverished people on a neighborhood level.

The mission operated the Good Samaritan the final four years of its 25 years as a soup kitchen.

Mr. Rogers closed it Sept. 30. The building, which was 114 years old, had deteriorated to becoming a safety hazard, he said. Repair costs were estimated at $200,000 -- far more than the building was worth.

Cherry Street believes the program can be more successful if the mission does not just "off-load the proverbial truck" of food and do all of the work itself, Mr. Rogers said.

"The hope is that we have a for-the-community, by-the-community approach," he said.

Cherry Street encourages groups to bring their own food when they serve, but that is not a requirement. The mission has food that it can provide, he said.

Alvina Costilla, a member of St. Peter and Paul's Church, said she is impressed by a number of programs coming together for those in need after years of neglect.

Several were discussed at Thursday's meeting.

"It's really beautiful how the community is coming back to life. It's almost like the Guadalupe Center is coming back," she said, referring to the former Baptist church on Segur Avenue that served as a mission for Toledo-area Hispanics from 1966 to 1986.

Contact Tom Henry at: thenry@theblade.com or 419-724-6079

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