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Friendship House finds location to distribute sack lunches

September 6, 2018

MOUNT VERNON — After deciding to reduce meal service for the homeless at its café, Friendship House has started distributing sack lunches at Farmstrong Brewing Co.

Lunches will be handed out to the homeless every day from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. indefinitely, said Tina Tate, executive director of Friendship House.

Friendship House decided to stop serving breakfast and lunch at its South Third Street location starting Sept. 1 after nearby businesses expressed concern the nonprofit was attracting criminal behavior to the neighborhood.

At the time, Tate said she hoped to find a different place to serve lunch in the hope it would help disperse the homeless population that has concentrated around Friendship House.

Tate said Farmstrong Brewing, located at the corner of Stewart Road and Freeway Drive, reached out after Friendship House posted on Facebook that it was seeking a place to serve lunch.

“They’re the only ones that offered,” she said.

The nonprofit started distributing lunches at the new location Tuesday, she said.

Todd Owsley, co-owner of Farmstrong Brewing, said he agreed to help because it seemed like an easy way to do some good for the community.

“We hold ourselves up as a community establishment,” he said. “We just try to help whenever we can.”

Owsley said he isn’t concerned with causing an increase in the neighborhood’s homeless population.

“We’re across the street from a Walmart,” he said. “There are already plenty of homeless people.”

Tate said the idea is for meal recipients to grab a sack lunch and leave. They are being advised to not linger or litter on private property.

Tate said she already notices fewer homeless congregating during the day around the nonprofit’s South Third Street location.

“At least for the immediate neighborhood, this might be a solution,” she said, adding it’s too early to draw any conclusions.

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