st. vincent de paul steps in to keep second-largest food pantry in northeast ohio going

Ninety two percent of residents in the Central neighborhood live below 200 percent of the poverty line, qualifying them to receive food from food pantries. Yet until recently, the future of the city's largest food pantry -- and the second-largest food pantry in Cuyahoga County -- was seriously in doubt.

Recently, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Cleveland (SVDP) stepped in to assume management of Brother Hubbard's Cupboard in the Carl Stokes Building at 6001 Woodland Avenue, which serves 1,700 people per month and over 20,000 annually.

"The need is still going up based on the number of people we're serving at food pantries, and the working poor tend to be the last ones affected by an economic upswing in a positive way," says John Litten, Executive Director of SVDP. "Northeast Ohio has been slower to recover than we've been led to believe."

The pantry previously was managed by the Capuchin Franciscan Brothers under the direction of Brother Walt Robb, but was in danger of closing when it was announced that Robb was leaving for another assignment.

Litten says SVDP has risen to the task of managing a massive food pantry that requires almost daily deliveries from the Cleveland Food Bank. Yet he stresses that it's about a lot more than just giving out food. "It's the human side that really gets to our mission, the person-to-person service," he says. "For many people, this may be the only person who's helping you today, smiling at you, asking how you're doing."

Although word is still getting out about the newly renamed SVDP Woodland Pantry, Litten says it's already making a difference. "The impact on the neighborhood is huge."

Source: John Litten
Writer: Lee Chilcote