The Rescue Mission Alliance broke ground Wednesday on a $5.8 million capital project to renovate and expand the Clarence L. Jordan Food Service and Culinary Education Center.
“Believe: a Warm Meal and a Way Home” is a two-phase capital campaign on the Mission’s 8.5-acre campus in Syracuse to meet the need for meals and emergency housing in Central New York. The Mission’s vision is to establish a place where basic needs of individuals experiencing hunger and homelessness can be met in a respectful and encouraging environment.
Completed in 2015, Phase One included the renovation of the Mission’s former recreation center into the Alice C. Barber Day Center and Kiesewetter Emergency Shelter. Capacity was increased from 132 beds to 183 beds and essential services were centralized in one location. Phase Two includes the expansion and enhancement of the food service center.
“This project is long overdue and, when completed, will have a tremendous impact on the people we serve,” said Rescue Mission Chief Executive Officer Dan Sieburg. “Our new food service center will allow us to meet the growing need in the community and will ensure those we serve will continue to be treated with dignity and respect.”
In 1987, the Mission acquired an old print shop on Gifford Street and turned it into a dining facility. That facility, which opened in 1993, was designed to serve 100 people per meal or a maximum of about 300 meals a day. Twenty-five years later, much of the facility remains unchanged. What has changed, however, is the growing need.
Lines form outside the building before each meal, even in inclement weather. The Mission now sometimes serves up to 700 meals in a day to men, women and children in need. No one is turned away. Lack of available seating may mean families need to split up during meals.
The Mission remains the only organization in the community that serves three free meals daily. In 2017, the Mission served more than 230,000 meals at its campus in Syracuse.
Plans call for adding to the existing building and for the new space to have an open, homey atmosphere where guests will feel comfortable and welcome. The Mission provides meals to those in need in the community as well as residents in its shelter and other programs.
The space will feature an expanded dining area with more seating, additional serving lines to reduce waiting, and a family dining room where parents and children can sit together. The project will update the commercial kitchen and promote the use of more volunteers. Storage capacity will increase, allowing the Mission to accept more food donations. An all-purpose space will be used for spiritual care, meeting space and overflow seating during meals. The building will also include expanded space for the Mission’s culinary training program to prepare students for employment in the food service industry.
The food service center will continue to bear the name of Clarence L. Jordan, a longtime Rescue Mission executive director and honorary board member.
The Mission still needs to raise $1 million to achieve its $5.8 million goal for the Clarence L. Jordan Food Service and Culinary Education Center. To date more than 170 foundations, companies, churches and individuals have contributed to the capital campaign.