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Mountain Mission to Close Soup Kitchen

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) - Mountain Mission has announced that it is closing its soup kitchen on Friday. They say around 80% of the meals they serve are to individuals using drugs.

“In all of our other services, we are helping people interested in improving their lives, but frankly, that’s not the clientele we are serving at the soup kitchen,” said John Roberts, the Executive Director of Mountain Mission.

Roberts says fundraising efforts are not covering the expenses of the kitchen.

“We can’t jeopardize the other services that we provide to the community,” he said. Mountain Mission provides food through its food pantry, assists people with their utility bills and other needs during emergency situations, and manages two thrift stores.

Roberts says he thought the kitchen would serve around 70 to 80 meals a day, but the facility is currently serving an average of 150 meals daily. He says the increase is more than Mountain Mission’s budget can handle without additional funding.

“We don’t have the ability or training to provide the services needed for people struggling with addiction,” he said. “It just breaks my heart.”

Roberts says Mountain Mission has partnered with agencies that provide counseling and addiction services, but he says he has found that none of the users at the soup kitchen are interested in being helped. 

“It’s also a safety issue for us and our volunteers. We have people using drugs in our parking lot, leaving dangerous needles on our property for our employees to pick up or, even worse, for a member of the community to accidentally be exposed to,” he said.

The kitchen opened in October 2016 to be an extension of the social service agency’s mission to provide a “hand up” to those individuals and families struggling to make ends meet.

Roberts says that he is forming a committee to help decide the future direction of the soup kitchen facility. “We know the facility can still play an important role in the community, but we’ll stop, take a breath and carefully consider our next move.”

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