The Delray Beach City Commission unanimously decided to shut down service for the Caring Kitchen by the end of October. The soup kitchen has been serving hot meals to those in need for more than 20 years and occupies a city-owned building.
The commission will still allow the organization to prepared, cook, and store food there until July of 2018.
Neighbors have contested the Caring Kitchen’s location for years. And while most are wholeheartedly in favor of providing the services, they simply do not believe it is suitable it in their neighborhood. Complaints of public defecation, fighting, and individuals sleeping on lawns have plagued the community service.
One neighbor who spoke in the meeting informed commissioners that she has found people sleeping at her front door and in a truck parked inside her fenced yard. She also recounted a time she used pepper spray to ward off an attacker who was apparently in the area for the meal service.
In fact, more than 125 calls to law enforcement have been issued to the residential area of its 196 NW 8th Avenue location in the last year.
Mayor Cary Glickstein declared, “I think the time has come to put an end to the suffering the people in the neighborhood are seeing.”
The Caring Kitchen serves about 6,000 meals per week and says it is needed more than ever. They are facing a huge challenge in finding a suitable new location and raise funds to obtain it.
For now, the kitchen expects to reduce its offerings to just 3 meals per week, beginning in November; until they can obtain additional community support.
City officials have offered to assist the Caring Kitchen in finding a new location, but said it could take some time, perhaps even a year or more.
Following the City’s ruling, neighbors who filled City Hall to the brim, seemed satisfied with the outcome.