Norwich — The St. Vincent de Paul Place soup kitchen and food pantry will move to the former St. Joseph School on Cliff Street starting Monday for the next two months as repairs are made to the former train station that now houses the facility, officials said.
Jillian Corbin, executive director of St. Vincent de Paul Place, said the need to move was sudden and came after the soup kitchen relocated the food pantry from one end of the building to the other to accommodate the structural repair work. A scaffold has been erected outside the former food pantry location.
But as the work grew more extensive, Corbin said, the need to move to avoid shutdown became apparent.
The move to the former school cafeteria at 120 Cliff St. will be made without interruption of service, Corbin said. A new pantry space in the former school was being cleaned Tuesday. More cleaning will be done today, and the move will take place Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Lunch will be brown-bag on Saturday, she said, and the full service facility should be open on Monday.
On average, about 250 people per day come to St. Vincent, Corbin estimated. The soup kitchen, food pantry and St. Vincent’s case management services will be run at the school during the temporary relocation.
Corbin printed maps of downtown to show patrons how to get to St. Joseph School. The maps will be posted at the train station and throughout downtown.
Corbin said several organizations and businesses are helping with the move, defraying much of the cost. AT&T will reconnect phones. Workers from AIC Community Solutions and Adult Probation are helping, and Norwich Public Utilities will connect the convection oven at the school.
The school does not have a handicapped entrance, so Corbin is working with a contractor to try to install an access ramp. She also is working with a plumber to build a shower — an important component of the St. Vincent de Paul Place mission, since it provides the only public shower in the city for patrons.
Patrons also wash clothes at St. Vincent. Corbin said that service will be continued through vouchers at local laundromats.
The school’s dishwasher can only accommodate utensils, so the soup kitchen will need paper plates and bowls and plastic hot and cold cups for the estimated 300 meals served each day.
She praised St. Joseph’s parish for its support with the move.
“In this unexpected and serious turn of events, it is heartwarming and affirming when our Catholic brothers and sisters support our ministry to serve those in need in our community,” Corbin said.
Volunteers are still needed to help with the move. To volunteer or donate paper goods to the soup kitchen, contact St. Vincent de Paul at (860) 889-7374.
Although this move will be temporary, Diocese of Norwich spokesman Michael Strammiello said relocating the soup kitchen to the vacant school permanently has been one of the options considered by the diocese for reusing the school building that closed in June 2010. But Strammiello and Corbin both said Tuesday that the current move is temporary only for the duration of the repairs.