The new site provides free food for children in the Northside.

Photo: Hot lunch pickup is now offered Monday through Friday at the new “Compassion Hub.” Courtesy of Allegheny Center Alliance Church

By Hallie Lauer

When Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) closed their doors on March 16 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, members of the Allegheny Center Alliance Church (ACAC) knew they had to do something to help.

So they pitched a tent, reopened the commercial kitchen used for their Summer Day Camp Food program, recruited volunteers, and began giving hot lunches to children in the Northside. 

ACAC started this endeavor, which they are calling the Compassion Hub, on April 6, as a service approved by the USDA and Pennsylvania’s Department of Education Food Service Division.* On that first day alone, they handed out 260 hot lunches for children who have been impacted by the closure of PPS due to COVID-19.

Parents or guardians can pick up these lunches from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. All CDC Safety Guidelines are being followed by those volunteering for the Hub. 

Although ACAC can only serve meals for children right now, they are also offering printed maps of free food sites catering to adults, as well as educational materials about the virus and children’s activities. 

The Compassion Hub tent currently stands in the parking lot between ACAC’s Union Place Building at 801 Union Pl., and ACAC’s Main Sanctuary. 

ACAC’s Main Sanctuary is the site where ACAC’s Friendship Community Hub was scheduled to be built starting this August. That date has now been put into question due to ongoing safety concerns surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Isn’t it just like God to first activate a hub of compassion on the very site where the new Hub building will stand one day,” Pastor Ken Turnbull said in an email.

According to Turnbull, the Community Hub is a combined effort to “reconnect the numerous ACAC buildings.” ACAC is partnered with the Urban Impact Foundation (UIF) to build this Community Hub. UIF is also working with ACAC at the Compassion Hub by delivering meals to Northside families. Previously, UIF was operating Grab and Go sites, many of which are no longer operating daily. 

“The vision of [the] Compassion Hub is evolving and growing,” said Turnbull. “We are listening carefully to the growing needs of our Northside community and brainstorming ideas with other service providers like [The] Pittsburgh Project to expand the resources we can make available.”

If you are interested in volunteering for the Compassion Hub, contact Tracy Grondziowski at tracy.grondziowski@acac.net to be put on the schedule. 

*Editor’s note: This article was updated on 4/10/2020 to clarify that ACAC’s Compassion Hub is a service approved by the USDA and the Food Services Division of the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

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