Too many disturbances closes Frogtown meal service for needy

On Sunday, Faith Lutheran Church is a place of worship. During the rest of the week, it’s home to Loaves and Fishes, serving hundreds of hot meals to some of Frogtown's most needy.

However, in the past year and a half, executive director Cathy Maes said the sanctity and generosity of this location on the 400-block of Charles Avenue was constantly disrupted by a group of young troublemakers stealing purses, throwing rocks, chairs and food.

Staff estimated they called St. Paul police about 30 or 40 times to break up fist fights and other disturbances because of the young boys, between the ages of 10 and 14.  No one was ever arrested.

Loaves and Fishes is a nonprofit with 21 locations across the metro. Maes says the Frogtown location is the only one facing these types of problems, and maintaining the program here just wasn't worth the risk.

“We had guests that would stop coming because they were afraid to dine with us, we had volunteers who said, ‘I won't come back,’” Maes said.

For now, guests like Kyle Jones are being asked to find hot meals at the two other locations in St. Paul, the nearest one being a few miles away in the basement of St. Matthew's Church. 

“Where I live, I don't have a kitchen, so I have no choice,” he said.