3 min read

Capuchin Soup Kitchen Renovations

Br. Gary Wegner, OFM Cap., executive director of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, shares an update on upcoming expansions and partnerships at the Capuchin Soup Kitchen.
An exterior view of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen Meldrum Meal Program Site.
An exterior view of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen Meldrum Meal Program Site.

We are pleased to announce that the Capuchin Soup Kitchen in Detroit is planning a series of significant expansions in the coming months. At the same time, the ministry is also initiating a new partnership with another Franciscan religious order to widen its geographic footprint. These endeavours represent the most significant capital investment in many years. The new projects will both enhance existing programs and introduce new services while serving our guests in a more dignified fashion.

Conner Meal Program Site

This first portion of these projects involves renovating our Conner meal program site at 4390 Conner Street to optimize the available space. We've been in the building for more than 20 years now and our experience at this location has given us insight to some adjustments we'd like to make to improve the guest experience. Such adjustments would include moving the Rosa Parks Children and Youth Program into a more private and dedicated space, adding more square footage inside the meal hall to welcome our guests, and establishing a community room for group meetings such as AA.

Capuchin Soup Kitchen's Conner Meal Program site today.
Capuchin Soup Kitchen's Conner Meal Program Site today.
Architect's rendering of a renovated Conner Meal Program Site.

While these initiatives take place indoors, we are also exploring what we can do outdoors. These adjustments would include reconfiguring the parking lot and relocating curb cuts to enhance safety. We also plan to move the entry and exit to a safer location on Canfield, away from the heavy traffic and bike lanes of Conner Street.

Meldrum Meal Program Site

At our Meldrum meal program site, we are exploring a variety of new projects as well. These range from a renovation of existing space to the potential construction of a second-story addition that would add approximately 2,000 square feet. If we proceed with an addition, we will relocate some of our offices to the second floor. This would free up ground-floor space for the shower program and allow us to build three new shower stalls and changing areas, increasing capacity and allowing greater privacy. We also plan to add laundry facilities for guests of the shower program.

Earthworks Urban Farm

As part of the Meldrum renovations, we would move Earthworks Urban Farm from its current home in the Meldrum garage to a stand-alone building near the greenhouse in order to establish a more purposeful space for the program. This would also allow us to relocate the shower program into the space currently occupied by Earthworks.
Although all options are still under evaluation, we hope to complete these projects by the end of 2022.

New Partnership with Felician Sisters Establishes a CSK Presence on the Northeast Side

While those projects unfold, we are also growing together with the Felician Sisters, a women's Franciscan religious order. The Felician Sisters invited the Capuchin Soup Kitchen to partner with them on their new initiative, Deo Gratias Ministries, an organization that was established to provide hospitality, essential needs like food and other forms of support for people experiencing challenging situations. As part of Deo Gratias Ministries, the sisters offer an art program, a community garden and the Deo Gratias Café.

The Felicians, much like the Capuchins, are a Franciscan religious order who follow the Gospel-rooted example of St. Francis of Assisi in accompanying those on the margins. They maintain a smaller community in central Detroit but are part of the larger Felician Sisters community in Livonia, MI.
The Capuchin Soup Kitchen intends to help contribute to the ministries of the sisters as part of our partnership by providing an
on-site case manager to help address root causes of hardship, and help people find sustainable pathways out of challenging circumstances.

Deo Gratias Ministries serves its guests from the former convent at St. Jude Parish on Detroit's northeast side and this location is roughly 6.5 miles northeast of our Meldrum meal site near 7 Mile Road and Kelly. The sisters have been serving here since 2018 and are currently in the process of purchasing the property. In partnering with them, it is our hope that we will be able to offer services in a neighborhood well beyond our current footprint.

We are excited to be a part of these new initiatives as they unfold and are excited for all of the upcoming opportunities to better serve our Detroit community in the coming years.