Chico Salvation Army cancels first Sunday dinner in 20 years


CHICO, Calif. - For the first time in over 20 years, The Salvation Army in Chico won't be able to serve its Sunday dinner.

Staff said their building is no longer able to support the sometimes hundreds that show up for their services. The Salvation Army has been in this location for over 130 years, offering education, church services, youth and food programs and much more.

Where a line of people would usually be starting to congregate, a sign out front instead, reads, "Sorry, no meals today till further notice."

"As surely as the sun rises The Salvation Army has had a Sunday night dinner that was available to the community, but our facility just can't handle the impact because it's aging," said Lieutenant Arwyn Rodriguera with The Chico Salvation Army.

There's leaks in the roof and even roots in the piping, so staff said at some point they had to draw the line. This location serves 1,700 families in Chico annually.

On any given Sunday, 20 to 300 locals would come to enjoy the free dinner.

"It's heartbreaking," said Lieutenant Rodriguera. "We love the families that come here for the Sunday night dinners, we love hanging out with people, we love journeying with them over years and seeing where they're at."

The good news is, is that this isn't the end. Thursday, staff are meeting with the planning commission with a proposal to knock down the building entirely and build a brand new one in it's place.

"We are very hopeful about our future here. No matter what, if the planning commission approves it or not, we're not going anywhere," said Lieutanant Rodriguera. "This is our home and this is our location in the community that we love so much."

The Salvation Army has been fundraising for over two years to fund this new building. Of the $6 million they project it will cost, 90% of that has already been raised, but they're not quite there.

"The fundraising is ongoing and, in particular, we're looking for people that want to give towards an endowment that'll help maintain programs going forward," said Rodriguera.

With numerous programs that have helped the community for decades, now just might be the time for the community to help them in return. If you would like to donate, or volunteer with The Salvation Army, click here.

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