Open Heart Kitchen may have to close

November 13, 2008 7:52:25 PM PST
The only free hot meal program in the Tri-Valley Area is just weeks away from closing its doors, unless contributions pick up soon. Open Heart Kitchen has seen donations fall off sharply while the need has steadily grown.

The empty freezers are usually full this time of year at the Open Heart Kitchen. It's usually full of food that's turned into free, hot meals served in Dublin, Pleasanton and Livermore.

"Never has this happened before, but we have funding for only five more weeks," said Wendy Weathers, an Open Heart Kitchen volunteer.

Open Heart Kitchen is the only service of its kind in the Tri-Valley, providing hot meals and box lunches for students since 1995.

Dennis Murphy is unemployed and relies on the free meal for him and his 11-year-old daughter.

"My job collapsed with the real estate market and then other jobs have subsequently have gone under as well. My daughter and I pretty much find our third meal of the day here," said Dennis Murphy, from Livermore.

Last year Open Heart served 160,000 meals, but they rely entirely on contributions and those are drying up, while more people are lining up for help.

"Our demand has gone up 26 percent, the donations have gone don 37 percent and a lot of that was corporate," said Weathers.

So Weathers put together a fundraiser planned for next week with music, wine tasting and h'orderves at Blacksmith Square in Livermore, where she also happens to volunteer at the John Christopher Cellars wine tasting room. A flyer for the event now sits on the counter with the wine.

Owner Chris Doczy will be among five wineries donating their wines for the fundraiser.

"While it's a really tough economy, I think people still want to help out wherever they can," said Chris Doczy.

With the economy in bad shape, need is expected to continue growing, Open Heart just hopes to stay open long enough to meet it.

Open Heart Kitchen: click here


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