University Settlement opening up when they'd usually close to help neighbors brave the cold weather

Posted at 1:05 PM, Jan 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-30 17:33:33-05

CLEVELAND — While temperatures are dropping throughout Northeast Ohio, food preparer Kimberly Battle is getting University Settlement ready to feed whoever may walk through the door this week.

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Normally, University Settlement closes its doors when Cleveland Schools shutdown for the weather but forecasts with temperatures at or below zero made them rethink their plan.

Cucumbers wait to be included in a salad in the University Settlement kitchen.

"When we realized how significant this cold spell was going to be and how much it would impact the residents of this neighborhood, we made the decision to stay open," said University Settlement Executive Director Earl Pike.

From 10 a.m. through 4 p.m. on at least Wednesday and Thursday, University Settlement will open up with a skeleton staff to provide food and shelter from the cold.

See the forecast here.

The picture posted on University Settlement's Facebook page announcing that they'd be open when Cleveland Schools cancelled class.

"The Greater Cleveland Food Bank has done an incredible job making sure the food is in the places where the people who need the food are, which is the schools," said Pike.

The Greater Cleveland Food Bank provides food to children through pantry programs at various schools in the area. But districts tell News 5 when school is closed, those food programs can't serve the kids they normally do, sometimes making it harder for them to find something to eat.

Chicken boils in the University Settlement kitchen before it's used in the soup being prepared for people looking for food and to get out of the cold on Wednesday.

"Last year, we did over 100,000 pounds of just produce," said University Settlement Community Resource Manager Grace Wright.

Wright says they have plenty of food to go around and some of their workers will brave the weather because people who live nearby won't have a choice.

Kimberly Battle prepares food before temperatures drop to around zero for roughly two days this week.

"My first instinct was, 'Man, if we're closed for two days, how does that affect everyone who does make the trip down here just to find our doors closed," said Wright.

University Settlement will be a place to keep warm, but also a spot for neighbors to be around other people.

"We hear a lot from pepole in this community that they're sometimes afraid to leave their house," said Pike. "They don't feel safe leaving their house because of concerns about crime."

But for this week, they'll have a place to stay warm and a spot to interact with other people while doing it.

"You get so isolated on days like this, with weather like this," said Pike.

You can find a full list of places to stay warm here.