Cocca Development fires back at Second Harvest over soup kitchen separation

Skip's Cafe food kitchen

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Last week, WYTV talked with Second Harvest Food Bank about why it would not continue with Cocca Development’s plans to build a new soup kitchen in downtown Youngstown.

On Tuesday, Anthony Cocca, owner of Cocca Development, is firing back at Second Harvest Food Bank, criticizing comments that Second Harvest Food Bank Director Mike Iberis made about their reasons for separation.

Iberis said Cocca planned to go through with the project without the help of Second Harvest Food Bank after his objections to some safe food handling standards set in place by Second Harvest. Cocca said that was simply not true.

“To say that our separation was based on the standards of food preparations is absurd. Our vision is to give the community a kitchen where people would have a place to be treated with dignity and respect and a clean warm place to eat. We refused to have an institutional fenced property where people were expected to stand in the rain, heat, or cold and wait until 10 minutes before serving times to be allowed to come into our facility because of guidelines set by others,” read the statement issued from Cocca on Tuesday.

Cocca also accused Second Harvest of breaking a promise of keeping its specified donation anonymous.

Cocca said demolition on the old building has been completed, and construction on the new building, to be located at 551 Mahoning Avenue, will begin April 18. He plans to open what he called the Community Kitchen later this summer, with Ralph “Skip” Barone as the kitchen manager.

“While Second Harvest is an incredible organization and does very well at providing food to many charities that feed thousands of people, we felt it was necessary to separate ties to assure our vision of the Community Kitchen would prevail. The operations of the new Community Kitchen will be a collaboration of our family, Skip Barone and his family, and other volunteers whom have been serving the needy for many years. We feel a local management team would have a better understanding of how best to serve our people in need,” the statement continued.

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