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Port Chester Daily Voice serves Port Chester, NY

Port Chester Soup Kitchen Serves Day Laborers

PORT CHESTER, N.Y.  -- The cost of food is a major expense for day laborer Elias Rojas, but for five days during the week he can get a free meal at the Holy Rosary Soup Kitchen."I like the food and the people," said Rojas, speaking in Spanish. "There are good people here."Rojas, 33, came to Port Chester from Puebla, Mexico, five years ago. He is staying in a two-bedroom apartment with his uncle, brother and two nephews for $1,000 a month. The money he makes working construction three days week barely covers his portion of the rent and living expenses, and the rest he sends home to his wife and son in Mexico.The soup kitchen is specifically geared toward serving undocumented immigrants, like Rojas, who come to American looking for work, but often don't make enough money to live on."They come here (to America) and they see the running water and the abundance of food," said Peter Cregan, director of food services at the kitchen. "Where they come from they don't have that."The kitchen is funded through grants and the Church of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, which runs several programs to assist undocumented immigrants such as employment services for day laborers, a food pantry and clothing donations.According to Deacon Bill Vaccaro at Holy Rosary, the kitchen serves over 48,000 meals a year. He said the need is greatest during the winter when there are less jobs available for day laborers and they are struggling to provide themselves with food and shelter.Rojas spent nearly seven months without work from November 2010 to June 2011. He is grateful to have now and volunteers at the soup kitchen in his spare time."They have helped me," he said. "I want to help, too."

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