New Feeding Site to Open Week of July 18

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A new community feeding site opening soon aims to fill more than the stomachs of its patrons, kitchen manager Ralph “Skip” Barone said.

Finishing touches such as electrical work and plumbing are underway and equipment is coming in daily, including the cooler and freezer that are being installed tomorrow at Our Community Kitchen. Plans are for the community center to open the week of July 18.

“We are moving forward,” Barone said.

The new feeding site, erected at 551 Mahoning Ave., is being funded by the Anthony Cocca Family Foundation, Construction of the 6,500-square-foot building was completed about six weeks ago, Barone said.

Barone worked with the St. Vincent de Paul Society soup kitchen for 15 years. He, along with several volunteers, left St. Vincent de Paul after clashing with the organization’s former president, Brian Antal.

The new site originally was going to be operated in conjunction with Second Harvest Food Bank but the organization separated from the project.

Our Community Kitchen will serve breakfast and lunch Monday through Saturday, Barone said. In addition, the site will provide a variety of services in partnership with other agencies, including the Ohio Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, which will advise visitors how it can be of service. Mercy Health staff will do flu shots and blood pressure screenings.

“We’re also going to have some computers and knowledgeable people” to help individuals obtain Social Security numbers and get driver licenses renewed.

“I can’t put into words how proud I am with the way the community has come together to support this cause,” Anthony Cocca said in an email.

“It’s going to be a real upgrade to what people are used to. It’s not just a soup kitchen,” Barone said. “We’re going to feed people not only physically but mentally and spiritually and however else we can help. We want to get them on the road to better themselves”

He also praised the Cocca family for its commitment.

“It’s been an amazing experience. They have been extremely generous,” he said.

“My family and I have always tried to let the cause be the headlines instead of our family and prefer to continue doing that,” Cocca said in the email response to the request for comment.

“We made the commitment to build the building and purchase all the equipment needed to open the kitchen,” he continued. “We also made the commitment that we will never allow the kitchen to be unable to serve food to the needy and would fund any money necessary to be sure that will continue.”

Pictured: Our Community Kitchen feeding site on Mahoning Avenue in Youngstown.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.