‘Homey’ Youngstown soup kitchen approaches 1 year serving community

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – A soup kitchen in Youngstown is coming up on its one-year anniversary and it’s already made quite an impact in the city.

Our Community Kitchen on Mahoning Avenue is 11 days away from celebrating its first year open.

Bob Erwin ate there on opening day. He’s been coming back for breakfast and lunch ever since.

“It’s a great asset to the community, to have a place for a nice meal and camaraderie,” he said.

Eli Rollins said this kitchen is unlike any other. He said the atmosphere — from the smiling staff to the delicious food — is nothing short of perfection.

“It’s just a homey feeling, you know? It’s just a little escape from whatever you’re going through, at least for that moment.”

For many, Our Community Kitchen is an escape from daily hardships. That’s why manager Skip Barone and his team try to make every meal as comforting and inviting as possible.

“We ask no questions. We welcome everyone. They can come in, have a cup of coffee, sit, and relax. No one will bother them,” Barone said.

The stigma of the streets is irrelevant there.

“I feel as though they don’t look down on us. They uplift us,” Rollins said.

Barone said the kitchen works to instill the idea that the staff and customers are all the same.

“Just the fact that we’re standing back there, serving their food, makes us no better nor worse.”

He hopes that word gets out to anyone who doesn’t know about Our Community Kitchen. Barone said they just want to help more people along the way.

They’re already feeding about 300 people a day, which is taxing and costly.

Our Community Kitchen said it is always in need of volunteers and food and monetary donations. To learn how to volunteer or donate, call Barone at 330-770-2224.