feeding the hungry in a tight economy more difficult for Cosgrove's kitchen

Story and photo by LIZ QUIRIN
Messenger editor

Everyone feels the pinch at the gas pump and the squeeze at the grocery stor, and that includes Cosgrove’s Kitchen, a ministry of St. Vincent de Paul in East St. Louis.

The And the numbers of lunch guests has risen with the price of food and fuel.

The Kitchen is serving lunch to about 225 people per day now compared to about 150 a day earlier, Joe Hubbard, Catholic Urban Programs director, said.
Higher temperatures have forced the staff to look for ways to keep the costs down. “We received a $1,000 utility bill the other day,” Hubbard said.

The Kitchen is air-conditioned to give the poor a respite from soaring temperatures, so the staff decided to try “cold” lunches, or at least lunches that didn’t require firing up the large ovens and gobbling up the cooled air.
Hubbard said parishes and other volunteers have contributed to a very successful “casserole program” that will resume in the fall, but present temperatures make it too expensive to implement now.

St. Vincent de Paul development director, Pat Hogrebe, said the Kitchen is “trying to provide a balanced meal” to folks who come in.

On this particular day, guests were treated to hot dogs, baked beans and pasta salad, all dishes that could be made with out turning on the ovens. One helper said the staff tries to give folks something cool along with the meal, ice cream cups or ice juices.

The economy, the usual slowdown in donations during the summer months and the rising temperatures are coming together as the “perfect storm” for those trying to help the poor. “More people are becoming poor every day with this economy,” Hubbard said.

Anyone wishing to donate gallon cans or fresh fruits and vegetables, cold cuts of lunch meat, bread for sandwiches or paper products can drop them off at the CUP location off Illinois Rte. 157 at 13 Vieux Carre, or send a donation to P.O. Box 3310, East St. Louis, IL 62203.


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