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‘I know what it is to be hungry:’ Man goes from homeless to CEO, opens New York soup kitchen

NEW YORK (WCBS) — One Bronx man is paying it forward, using his past hardships to help others move forward, by providing free warm meals.

Manhattan’s Loving Arms Soup Kitchen welcomed the public in with open arms this New Year’s Day.

The founder is personally connected to this issue, as he was in his clients’ shoes not too long ago.

“I know what it is to be hungry. I know what it is to be homeless and I know what it is to be judged in the greatest city in the world,” Victor Rivera of the Bronx Parent Housing Network said.

Rivera is now the president and CEO of the social services organization, the Bronx Parent Housing Network.

Before that, he was homeless, incarcerated, and even illiterate.

Since getting back on his feet, Rivera has made it a life-long mission to make sure no one has to go through similar pain.

“The first client we served I instantly had a connection because I remember the first day that I had my first soup as a homeless individual.”

The brand new soup kitchen sits on First Avenue in between East 85th and 86th Streets on the Upper East Side.

It will be open for lunch and dinner every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday – offering hot, healthy meals and drinks.

Visitors say just knowing someone cares means everything.

“I mean it also goes along with good health, because if you’re depressed and you’re constantly thinking about the things you don’t have, it kind of brings your health down,” Bronx resident Earl Walker said.

Rivera says the majority of the clients are not homeless but food insecure – struggling due to the city’s high cost of living.

He expects to serve as many as 200 pre-packaged meals every week.

The location and food were funded in part by an anonymous donor. It’s also being supported by the city council and, as of now, is funded through the end of the year.

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