Capuchin Services Center unveils free food pantry open house

Capuchin Services Center, a program of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, has reengineered its food pantry to resemble a small grocery store, complete with reach-in freezers and coolers, vegetable and fruit islands, bread and pastry racks.

Each guest is granted a designated number of pounds of food, based on family size. Non-perishable items and frozen meats are included in the poundage total, but ice cream and perishable items are not. Rather, they are available without limitation.

An open house is planned Sunday, May 17, 1-3 pm, with a blessing of the building and a short program at 2:30. Tours will be available, and light refreshments will be provided by the Soup Kitchen's On The Rise Bakery.

George Gaerig, manager of the Capuchin Services Center, explains that the redesign took place after years of discussion, visits to other agencies, planning with architects, and eight weeks of construction. "With the guests now able to make their own selections, shoppers are freer to plan their meals. There will be less waste as they choose those items that their family will eat and enjoy. They can also select multiple quantities of favorite foods."

The Kroger Grocery chain generously donated the shelving, food islands and bread racks.

The clothing distribution area was also redone with an emphasis on providing a more retail feel to the shopping experience. The clothing racks were donated by Kohl's Department Store. Shoppers now have a much easier time finding clothing items, as the racks are arranged in a consumer-friendly manner.

The front lobby of the building was expanded to accommodate up to forty guests waiting for service. A new reception desk was created, resulting in a more inviting and welcoming first impression. Along with the redesigned guest areas, new office carpeting was installed, walls were painted with warm accent colors, and new window treatments added to the updated decor.

The Capuchin Services Center initially opened 1995. These updates and upgrades have moved the Center into best practice models of pantry and clothing programs, giving guests a more dignified experience.

"The reconfigured building allows us to serve our guests in a more respectful manner. We are proud of the finished product, and thank the Albert Kahn architectural firm and Corrado Construction for helping make it a reality," Br. Jerry Smith, Capuchin Soup Kitchen executive director, explains.

The Capuchin Services Center serves as the distribution site for appliances and furniture for families reestablishing households after a fire or a stay in a shelter, and emergency food and clothing for anyone in need. There are no geographic eligibility criteria, however all recipients of service are interviewed by an emergency assistance worker. Families are eligible for food assistance every thirty days. Case management services are provided by degreed social workers and support groups are offered for mothers and grandparents raising grandchildren.

Donations of food, clothing, appliances and furniture in good condition are gratefully accepted.

Founded in 1929, the Capuchin Soup Kitchen serves Metro Detroit by providing food, clothing, and counsel to those in need. In addition to preparing and typically serving 2,000 meals a day, the Capuchin Soup Kitchen also distributes household items and operates a shower program, food pantry, and children's tutoring and art therapy program. Its Earthworks Urban Farm produces vegetables for Detroit's hungry, operates a two and a half acre organic farm, and educates the community in regards to sustainable relationships between human beings and the earth. The soup kitchen's ROPE (Reaching Our Potential Everyday) ministry is designed to assist individuals "re-entering" society after bouts of incarceration or substance abuse. ROPE's first social enterprise is the "On the Rise Bakery."

The Capuchin Soup Kitchen is a ministry of the Province of St. Joseph of the Capuchin Order, which is headquartered in Detroit and serves Capuchin ministries worldwide.