Rochester Community House Changes Surprise Council

By DREW HOWARD

The fate of a Rochester Community House program, purposed with supplying food for low-income families and senior citizens, is now up in the air, according to a recent discussion at the Rochester City Council.

During the September 24 city council meeting, resident Patricia Kane said she was told by RCH Executive Director Alan Smith that the organization’s Community Kitchen – a program that provides food to those in need – is now “gone.”

“I stopped by my neighbor’s house, who is the new [RCH] director, just to inquire if I could donate another tree to the Community Kitchen and Benny’s Kitchen,” Kane said during public comment. “He told me no, because it’s all gone. Benny’s Kitchen is gone, the Community Kitchen is gone, the meals are gone.”

“I had to take a deep breath,” she continued. “I said, ‘are you kidding me?’”

In response to the comments, Councilwoman Nancy Salvia explaining that a box of food has been available at the RCH for residents who utilized the Community Kitchen thanks to a partnership with the Rochester Area Neighborhood House. Salvia said not a single person has shown up to take food since it arrived.

She added that the fate of the Community Kitchen’s monthly dinner is a different story. “Every sponsor who is on record between now and year-end is working with Alan, and they’re partnering with him,” Salvia said. “We want to re-brand the dinners. We want to bring fresh life to them. So that’s being reviewed by the board.”

In a brief phone call with the Gazette, Alan Smith confirmed that plans for the future of the Community Kitchen are still being hashed out.

Councilwoman Ann Peterson expressed frustration over not being in-the-loop on the recent developments around the Community Kitchen.

“I’m very upset to hear this tonight,” Peterson said. “I’m very disappointed that sitting here as a council person, we haven’t had an update whatsoever regarding that happening.”

“Sorry, it’s inexcusable, and I don’t want to hear it at all right now,” she continued. “This is just really bad.”

Despite plans for the Community Kitchen monthly dinners being up in the air, Salvia clarified that the RCH is still expecting to hold next month’s dinner.

Salvia later agreed to relay the concerns discussed during the September 24 meeting to the RCH board members.