Restaurant giving out free lunches - people complain
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    Community Host Alissa_Sal's Avatar
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    Default Restaurant giving out free lunches - people complain

    http://www.jconline.com/apps/pbcs.dl...nclick_check=1

    The article is long, but a good read. Basically, the owner of a restaurant was providing free lunches to the needy (at her own cost) every Thursday in her restaurant. This drew a crowd, and it sounds like one man in particular (who also owns a business in the area) led the charge in complaining about the impact the crowd was having, to the point that she eventually stopped providing the free lunches.

    Was he (the other business owner) right to complain? I believe that she stopped on her own before the city or any official made her stop, but if she hadn't, should the government have made her stop? Is there a way this situation could have been resolved that would have allowed her to continue to help the poor, but also be sensitive to the other business owners in the area? Any other thoughts?
    -Alissa, mom to Tristan (5) and Reid (the baby!)

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    Posting Addict Spacers's Avatar
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    The link isn't working for me because I'm not a subscriber. I'm guessing the complaints were because the people attracted for free Thursday lunches weren't the type to be spending money in neighboring businesses and who might smell bad while passing through. Well, too bad. Homeless people have a right to go wherever they want just like anyone else has, and as long as they aren't causing trouble or damaging things, I can't imagine why anyone should have the right to complain about needy people getting a meal once a week. But maybe I'm missing something since I can't read it...
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    If it in some way impedes his business then I can understand the need to speak up. I would hope he could come up with a compromise with the business giving out free meals.
    Lisa
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    Community Host Alissa_Sal's Avatar
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    Thats weird Stacy! I'm not a subscriber either. I will try to c&p when I'm at my computer. Too hard to do from my phone.
    -Alissa, mom to Tristan (5) and Reid (the baby!)

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    I found another article about it last night. There seems to be some debate about whether or not these guys are causing problems, or if it's just making people uncomfortable to have them around.

    Honestly, it's a tough one. I love what she's doing, but if that many people are coming then it may indeed impact other businesses. I think they should have worked together to find a solution rather than pressuring someone to stop helping people in need, and providing a community for them.
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    That business owner was out of line. Phone calls to people were made that were flat out lies.
    In one instance, someone told police that a couple dozen people were doing drugs behind Buttery Shelf. Unknown to the caller, however, was that police already had an officer watching on the scene who noted that the people ?were just standing there waiting for the place to open.?
    I suppose the Buttery Shelf Eatery could start charging people for the food. Just enough to make it a non-issue but not so much that it will turn anyone away.

    Out of curiousity I looked up the two businessness. Buttery Shelf Eatery opened in 2001; the other business wasn't opened until 2007. He knew who his neighbors are - or at least he was in a position to find out who they were since they had been there 6 years at that point.

    It's just really sad to me. People want homelessness and hunger to go away. Their strategy though is to pretend it doesn't really exist.
    Last edited by ethanwinfield; 12-07-2013 at 07:27 PM.

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    Community Host Alissa_Sal's Avatar
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    Here is the text from the article:

    At noon on a typical Thursday earlier this year, the Buttery Shelf restaurant at 927 Main St. was packed.

    As many as 70 people ? some unsure where their next meal would come from ? turned out at the small eatery owned by Cherrie Buckley, each eager for the free meal served only on Thursdays.

    But in September, buffeted by mounting backlash from some local business owners, Buckley decided to shutter the restaurant?s meal program for good.

    The free lunches, said Jerry Kalal, owner of K. Dee?s Coffee and Roasting Co., scared customers away from his business and resulted in an uptick in fights and littering in the street.

    ?I said, ?You do this little soup kitchen, but you?re closing down all the other businesses,? ? Kalal said. ?I?m not against helping people, but when it hurts my building and other businesses, I go off.?

    Lafayette police officers fielded repeated complaints about Buttery Shelf patrons, but each time responded to find nothing more severe than patrons blocking traffic. Buckley said her trash containers were even removed. Finally, Buckley gave up.

    Not all merchants were upset by Buckley?s free lunch Thursdays.

    ?I just hated to see the Thursdays shut down,? said Ivan Brumbaugh, owner of Main Street Cheese and Wine. ?I hate to think that one person in this town or on this block has enough power to shut things down or to make it so rough (that) people are afraid to do it. It?s not right.?


    The conflict that resulted in the end of the lunches left one less resource for Tippecanoe County?s hungry population and bruised feelings up and down Main Street. And it underscores the larger tensions that food pantries and philanthropists face as they navigate the politics and public stigmas accompanying their efforts to feed the hungry in Greater Lafayette.
    Shrouded in stigma

    In Indiana, 13.5 percent of households are considered ?food insecure,? meaning their access to enough food is no certainty. Nationwide, 14.5 percent of American households are food insecure, according to a 2013 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    In Tippecanoe County alone ? where 16.9 percent of residents or 28,800 people are considered food insecure ? there are 12 food pantries at which the hungry line up nearly every day of the week, bundled in jackets and blankets and vying for a spot at the front of the line. For drivers passing by the packed parking lots and crowded sidewalks, it?s easy to make unflattering assumptions.

    ?Sometimes there is that stigma attached, that every person you see at a food pantry or other food source is somebody that doesn?t work or doesn?t want to work, just trying to live off the system,? Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski said.

    The truth isn?t as clear cut. Granted, some are homeless or jobless. Others are underemployed or unable to work. Some may have a job but are buried by medical bills or other expenses.

    ?These are families where maybe both parents have bachelor?s degrees but are trying to find jobs and are overqualified, and this is a gap they?re trying to fill,? said Rachel Ravellette, a volunteer at the Elmwood Church food pantry. ?What a lot of people don?t realize is how many people don?t realize where their next meal is coming from.?



    Stigmas apply not only individuals but to the food banks that serve them.

    Food Finders Food Bank, the umbrella organization that provides food to more than 160 member agencies in 16 counties, including Tippecanoe, is on track to move 6.5 million pounds of food this year. It?s to the point that Food Finders is actively seeking to move to a larger location than what?s afforded by its 25,000-square-foot facility off Olympia Court.

    But Katy Bunder, Food Finders? executive director, said she?s been turned away or discouraged from several sites by property owners or businesses that aren?t keen on the idea of food trucks coming and going or long lines of the food-insecure milling about.

    ?I think the stigma is that a food bank gives a negative message,? Bunder said. ?So if you have it on your street, it tells you that the area isn?t as economically viable as it once was. I think that?s the perception that is out there.?

    Food Finders funnels food that would otherwise be headed for a landfill into the hands of the hungry. Many ask how Bunder can be sure the clients lining up for food really need it, especially since Food Finders doesn?t keep track of its clients.

    ?I have a pat response,? Bunder said. ?I say, ?If you?re willing to stand out in public with a laundry basket in the scorching heat or freezing cold or pouring rain, we believe you need it.? And I?ll usually add ?to get old food.?
    ?They?re getting huge bunches of kale that are beginning to get wilty, cantaloupes with soft spots, meat that?s been frozen on the sell-by date, but past the sell-by date, and cans of corn with no label, or dented things.?

    During the 2008 recession, the turnout at local food pantries grew significantly, said Jennifer Layton, executive director of Lafayette Transitional Housing Center. But that was nothing compared to what the center has seen in recent years. In the past two fiscal years, the number of people served by the center has almost doubled, jumping from 8,513 people served from October 2011 to December 2012 to 15,754 people served during that same time period the following year.



    ?Our numbers quite literally have exploded,? Layton said. ?An 85 percent increase from 2012. So when I say exploded, I mean, like, wow!?

    But sometimes those who food banks and volunteers are trying to help make it hard. Occasionally a food pantry line will devolve into foul language or fights.

    Hours of waiting in the heat or cold can fray tempers, leaving the crowd on edge and forcing organizers to crack down.

    ?Within the last three or four months, we?ve expanded our regulations here,? Layton said. ?We will no longer tolerate inappropriate behavior, abusive language, cursing."

    Those looking for an example of such behavior need look no further than Main Street.
    Calling it quits

    Buckley is no amateur when it comes to helping those in need. Among community service circles, Buttery Shelf is almost as well known as its owner. In 1995, Buckley started Seeds of Hope Community Pantry and Clothes Closet, which soon expanded to become Seeds of Hope Community Ministries, a nondenominational effort aimed partly at helping the homeless and mentally ill.

    At Buttery Shelf, Buckley regularly serves and employs those who are down and out. Her Donation Thursdays ? she?d absorb the cost of a free meal for all patrons, regardless of their background ? were a hit, typically drawing between 50 and 70 people.

    ?What I liked most about it is that a lot of times, when you go into a public place, you don?t see a representative segment of the community,? said Ravallette, the food pantry volunteer and a former patron of the free lunches.
    ?Sitting down having lunch together, eating the same things and having this shared experience, that can only serve to grow our sense of community here in Lafayette.?

    A message was posted on the Buttery Shelf Facebook page on Sept. 26, notifying patrons that the business was ending its Donation Thursday lunches and reverting back to a normal business day.

    When contacted by the Journal & Courier, Buckley explained that she shut down the program due to backlash from local business owners. She agreed to be interviewed, then canceled weeks later, saying she was too emotionally exhausted to discuss the situation.



    Business owners in neighboring stores filled in the blanks of what happened.

    Kalal, who describes himself as a former U.S. Marine who moved to Lafayette in 2006 to escape gang violence in Chicago, opened K. Dee?s at 1016 Main St. in 2007. From his shop he had a front row seat to the chaos he said accompanied Donation Thursdays.

    ?You?d have 50 or 60 people standing outside the Buttery Shelf, spitting, swearing, open alcohol use, clogging the sidewalks,? Kalal said.

    It got so bad, Kalal said, that he approached Roswarski to complain.

    ?I told Tony if I?ve got to buy the building myself (to shut it down), I would,? Kalal said.

    Roswarski confirmed that Kalal approached him, but he could not recall when that conversation took place.

    ?We did try to keep an eye on it, and I?d say it?s one of those difficult situations where I think, obviously, Cherrie was trying to do the right thing, trying to do something nice,? Roswarski said. ?Some business owners had concerns, and some may have been legitimate.?

    Makenzie Kus, who opened Something Blue Bakery at 918 Main St. in 2007, said the cursing and fights left her uneasy, especially for her bakery, which is patronized in large part by moms who regularly bring their children.

    ?There was a crowd that used a lot of foul language there,? Kus said. ?I watched one guy just cold-**** another guy right in the face. I know it?s not like that all the time, but I definitely see why businesses were uncomfortable with it.?

    Kus said it?s hard to tell whether she lost business from the crowd, but Kalal estimates the Buttery Shelf lunches cost him $500 to $800 a week in lost revenue.

    ?I had no one new come in (on Thursdays),? Kalal said. ?I even had the chief of police in here, and I showed him my books. You can see every Thursday around noon (my charges) drop to nothing.?
    Extra scrutiny

    Other business owners doubt Kalal?s claims.

    David Kurtz, owner of American Treasures at 1022 Main St., equated some business owners? treatment of Cherrie to ?bullying.?



    ?It just seemed like there was extra police presence during the time when Cherrie was serving, and extra scrutiny, and often the guy from the coffee shop, I saw him in the middle of it, standing with the police, directing the police,? Kurtz said.

    Capt. Chris Downard of the Lafayette Police Department explained the noticeable increase in police presence. Since April, police have received four calls ? three were anonymous; the fourth came from K. Dee?s Coffee?s business line ? complaining about the people outside Buttery Shelf. Two calls came in April, one in May and one in June.

    ?The call came in saying there were about 20 people behind the Buttery Shelf doing drugs, and an officer was already on scene watching them,? Downard said. ?They were just standing there waiting for the place to open.

    ?It was an unfounded call.?

    Two calls in September were initiated by officers due to the large number of people crowding the corner of 10th and Main streets, but this was not particularly uncommon considering the extra patrols the police conduct six hours per day, six days a week. For almost 10 years they have dedicated extra officers to ride, walk or bike from the Big Four Depot on Second Street to the bus trolley stop at 11th and Main streets.

    Downard said each conflict in the six-month period was resolved peacefully.

    ?No one?s been arrested. They?ve never even done a police report,? Downard said. The issues dealt with concerning the Buttery Shelf were limited to patrons blocking traffic, on either the street or sidewalk, while waiting to get in.

    Brumbaugh, of Main Street Cheese and Wine, said one local business owner went too far in trying to shut down Buckley?s free lunches.

    ?They used to have a whole crowd waiting and, yeah, sometimes it gets noisy,? Brumbaugh said, ?but that?s no reason to call the cops and try to shut a business down.?
    -Alissa, mom to Tristan (5) and Reid (the baby!)

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    Community Host Alissa_Sal's Avatar
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    From the fact that there was extra police scrutiny there and no one ever got arrested or anything, it seems to me like it was honestly more that this one guy (Kalal - Superman's Dad??? How could you???) just didn't like it more than there was actual illegal activity going on. I think it's really sad that it got to the point where she felt like she had to shut it down.
    -Alissa, mom to Tristan (5) and Reid (the baby!)

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    I agree it is sad it was brought to this point. I think if she had started this program prior to him coming in with his business it's just TS.

    It's like when people buy houses next to an airport that is 90 years old and then complain about the noise.
    Mom to Elizabeth (6) and Corinne (4)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jessica80 View Post
    I agree it is sad it was brought to this point. I think if she had started this program prior to him coming in with his business it's just TS.

    It's like when people buy houses next to an airport that is 90 years old and then complain about the noise.
    Was the program there first? I know the restaurant was, but were the Thursday meals?

    ~Bonita~

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