Advocates for the poor protest proposal by businesses to move busy soup kitchen Plan is part of effort to fix up commercial area

November 10, 1998|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

Workers from West Baltimore's Viva House soup kitchen marched downtown yesterday to protest the proposed move of its counterpart, Our Daily Bread, from its site next to the Basilica of the Assumption.

In the first of three 20-minute vigils yesterday intended to help the kitchen stay put, Viva House leader Brendan Walsh walked with about a half-dozen supporters outside Our Daily Bread with banners that read: "Don't Move Our Daily Bread" and "Stop the War On The Poor."

The protest was followed by similar ones at the archdiocesan building at the corner of Cathedral and Mulberry streets and at the Downtown Partnership offices in the 200 block of N. Charles St., which represents the business community pursuing the move.

While a spokesman for the kitchen's operators, Associated Catholic Charities, insists no decision has been made on the proposal, Walsh said Viva House workers staged yesterday's event to let those who will ultimately decide on the move know where his organization stands.

"Our God is not concerned with the business climate, Charles Street revitalization, Oriole or Ravens victories or profit-making," said Walsh, who runs Viva House at 26 S. Mount St. "Our God is concerned with feeding the hungry."

Walsh said people were compelled to protest because downtown business leaders have been pushing to relocate Our Daily Bread from its site at Cathedral and Franklin streets, where it feeds lunch to up to 900 people a day. The business community approached Associated Catholic Charities in May, offering to help pay for a more comprehensive service center for the poor in return for moving the soup kitchen out of the path of proposed redevelopment in the Charles Street corridor.

A committee of city business leaders and advocates for the poor has been studying the idea for six months and is expected to make a recommendation next month.

"It's a little premature," Associated Charities spokeswoman Fran Minakowski said of yesterday's demonstration. "The report is being written and will go back to the board in December."

Pub Date: 11/10/98

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