By Cesareo Contreras / Daily News Correspondent
Posted Dec 22, 2017 at 8:11 PM
FRAMINGHAM – The Pearl Street Cupboard & Café plans to expand its free evening hot meal program to five days a week after the new year.
The United Way of Tri-County operates the café twice a week but is joining forces with the Salvation Army to expand the program.
The café, which seats 118 at a time, offers guests home-style fare, ranging from salad and soup to chicken, pork and fish, said Paul Mina, CEO of United Way of Tri-County. Guests can top off their meal with either a scoop of ice cream or a piece of pie or cake.
The café serves hot meals on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, but come Jan. 8, it will merge operations with The Salvation Army’s “Miracle Kitchen” program, which offers hot evening meals Monday through Friday.
The Salvation Army is set to sell its Concord Street location and move to a smaller space on Howard Street. While the new space is suitable for most of the organization’s needs, Salvation Army Business Manager Wendy Kountz said, it doesn’t have a kitchen.
About eight months ago, right after The Salvation Army decided to sell its Concord Street building, Mina met with Kountz to organize a joint evening meal program.
“We started talking about bringing the two programs together,” said Mina. “It had always been United Way’s plan to eventually move to five nights a week, but we didn’t want to do that when down the street one of our partners was providing food on those nights.”
At that point, the partnership was in its infancy. But around eight weeks ago, after The Salvation Army moved toward finalizing the sale of its building, the two organizations agreed to “combine their volunteer forces,” said Mina.
“This made sense,” Kountz said. “Our goal was to continue feeding the people in the community and we are going to be able to continue doing that with The United Way.”
Kountz said through their work, The Salvation Army and The United Way of Tri-County are offering a helping hand to many who are in need.
“Some of these folks are either unemployed or underemployed,” she said. “A lot of them have homes, but they just don’t necessarily have income to keep food on their table, so we’re helping fill that gap.”