Soup kitchen funds in jeopardy due to ties to local leaderPosted: Updated:
A soup kitchen’s ties to a local leader has put some of its funding in jeopardy.
The soup kitchen is run by City Council President Roberta Apuzzo, and the city says it’s her affiliation with the program that put the funding in jeopardy. Apuzzo says she was stunned when she heard the city of Mount Vernon is cutting off all funds to the soup kitchen she runs on Fifth Avenue.
She says the soup kitchen serves 300 dinners per week to some of Mount Vernon’s most vulnerable residents.
The reason the soup kitchen didn't get the money this year is because HUD stepped in and wanted to look at how the city was spending federal money, according to city officials.
The city may not be cutting them off for good, but according to Mayor Richard Thomas, "the federal government told us to wait - we have to look at conflict of interests."
Apuzzo says she has received a waiver from HUD allowing the soup kitchen to accept the money as long as she recuses herself from votes involving her charity.
HUD is still reviewing the case, and Thomas says that HUD is being especially careful after years of undocumented loans in previous administrations.
"We're optimistic the federal government will take a step back and look and see that there are people that are hungry here in Mount Vernon and need to be fed, and we are eager to support that initiative,” says Thomas. “We just have to follow the rules that were given to us.”
City officials say it's unclear when HUD will rule on whether to allocate funds to the soup kitchen.