For years, Our Daily Bread soup kitchen has performed its good works on Cathedral Street, just across from the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Mount Vernon. In 2004, the kitchen, operated by Catholic Charities, served nearly a quarter of a million meals to the homeless and others who could not afford to buy their own.
But the presence of the kitchen and its customers drew protests from local business owners and patrons of the Pratt. City officials and others looked for an alternative site and offered help for the kitchen to relocate.
The result promises to be a modern-day blessing - an elegant, bright and airy three-story, 52,000-square-foot building, which is under construction on Fallsway opposite the city jail. The sweeping lines and expansive presence of the planned building appear likely to change the face of what has been a grimy neighborhood.
In addition to Our Daily Bread, the building will provide a new home for Christopher Place, an 18-month-old program that claims a 95 percent job-placement rate; the St. Jude's Employment Center, a program for low-skilled workers and the Samaritan Center, which provides emergency services including eviction-prevention support, traveler's aid and referrals for health, addiction recovery and housing services.
The state and city chipped in $10 million of the $13 million cost of the building. The federal government is providing $450,000.
After Our Daily Bread moves into the new building, its current space will be taken over by My Sister's Place, a day program offering breakfast and dinner, shower and laundry facilities, and life-skills workshops to homeless women and children.
Christopher Place will move from East Eager Street. St. Jude's Employment Center and the Samaritan Center will move from West Franklin Street.