“Because of the extraordinary generosity of the Erie community toward Emmaus following the fire to our soup kitchen, we are able to begin building a new facility to better meet the growing needs of Erie’s poor and hungry,” Sister Mary Miller, director of Emmaus Ministries, has announced.

(Read about Emmaus’s plans for a new soup kitchen and pantry in the Erie Time-News story by Gerry Weiss.)

The new building, which will utilize part of the present structure, will greatly increase the soup kitchen’s seating area and also serve food pantry guests.

“We are building a modest structure that can provide what has been lacking, but dearly needed at Emmaus--space, protection from weather, and capacity for food preparation and serving,” explained Sister Mary. “Our previous space was so crowded and that often increased tensions and posed potentially volatile situations for the many broken and addicted people we serve as well as for the volunteers. The new facility will also mean that families, the elderly, the disabled, the ill and many veterans will no long have to wait outside in inclement weather because we will be able to seat everyone at once. The new kitchen will have enough space to provide an area just for families, mostly single mothers and children. And we will have an adequate kitchen area to prepare food for over 200 people a day. We are undertaking this project so that we can treat all our guests in a more humane and dignified manner.”

Rather than a formal capital campaign, Emmaus is simply asking people who are able to contribute to the new facility. “We still need about $150,000 for the project,” said Sister Mary, “and are grateful for any gift, no matter how small.”

The present pantry and soup kitchen building will continue to serve Erie’s needy until late spring when the new structure is scheduled for completion.

The Emmaus soup kitchen, which is located at 218 East 11th St, opened in 1974 and now includes a food pantry and Kids Café. The Emmaus soup kitchen serves over 200 each day. The pantry distributes food to over 600 households each week, and the Kids Café, an after school program provides a wholesome meal and afterschool activities to 50 children each day.

Emmaus Ministries is an outreach of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie.