Future Uncertain For God's Katrina Kitchen - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Future Uncertain For God's Katrina Kitchen

"We need to pray for Gulfport as well. For some of their leaders as well. For their decision making," a volunteer prayed, before the noon hour lunch at "God's Katrina Kitchen."

The well known hurricane relief ministry is just now getting settled at its new location in West Gulfport.

"This site has been ideal. We are very blessed to be here. We're very appreciative of what the property owner is doing by allowing us here, as well as the City of Gulfport," said spokeswoman Vicki Weesner.

The ministry provides three hot meals a day, six days a week, to anyone in need. But it's more than a kitchen. Bunk houses are temporary homes for rotating teams of volunteers.

"We are rebuilding home in the community. Everything from debris clean up to full rebuilds. We have 21 homes we're currently in the process of rebuilding," she explained.

"Haven't had anybody sell and leave," said David Andre, looking down Woodward Avenue.

 Two blocks away from the tent, Andre is watching Woodward Avenue rebuild. He says "God's Katrina Kitchen" means well, but it's attracting trouble.

"A free food kitchen inevitably attracts some transients. And transients aren't what we'd like to have in our neighborhood," he said.

"We have vagrant people walking in and out of here that we didn't have before this thing opened. And that's what's scaring my wife," said Wade Meyers.

Meyers, who also lives on Woodward, says vagrants have increased dramatically, along with a noticeable rise in crime.

"People's houses being broken into. Their campers. And it's just, my family doesn't feel safe even walking outside anymore."

Vicki Weesner says the ministry will do whatever it can to address neighborhood concerns. She says the issue of transients might be resolved with some changes in kitchen policy. For example, feeding only the volunteer groups.

"We are here to be their neighbor, not their enemy," she said.

By Steve Phillips 

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