By Kate Raddatz

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The doors were boarded up at House of Charity’s Food Centre in downtown Minneapolis Thursday. Inside, the damage from a fire late that broke out Wednesday night is significant. A water pipe also burst.

“A lot of water damage,” Lewis said. “The fire started in the utility room.”

“It was a blessing from God for me to be able to have a place to go,” said Jesse Garcia, of Minneapolis.

Garcia was living on the streets until he found shelter with House of Charity. He usually would come to the Food Centre for lunch.

“It’s a real big tragedy,” he said. “Good people, they help a lot of people, so it’s going to have a big impact.”

House of Charity merged with St Stephen’s Human Services last year, providing meals for its two homeless shelters and those in need in the community. Around 40% of diners get their only food from this food kitchen.

House of Charity was founded in 1952 on Nicollet Island with meals being served on just a few tables. In 2020, their downtown Food Centre served more than 75,000 meals.

No one was inside the building when the fire happened and no one was hurt.

“That is the one saving grace that is the best news nobody was hurt,” St. Stephen’s Human Services interim executive director Cheryl Jensen said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. Other charities are already stepping up to help feed extra people now in need of a meal.

“It warms my heart,” Jensen said.

For those who want to help, House of Charity and St. Stephen’s Human Services are asking for financial donations over food donations since they do not currently have space to store food.

Kate Raddatz