Cortland firefighters serve free pizza after church fire displaces Loaves & Fishes program

CORTLAND, N.Y. — The Cortland Professional Firefighters Union provided free lunch to local residents Monday after a church fire forced Cortland Loaves & Fishes to relocate its services.

Friday afternoon's fire at Grace Episcopal Church at 13 Court Street — a building located next door to the Cortland Fire Department's headquarters — caused extensive smoke damage to the building, forcing many programs that are normally held at the church to relocate until further notice, including Cortland Loaves & Fishes.

Given the fire's impact on the program, the Cortland Professional Firefighters Union decided to donate free pizza to residents who would normally attend Monday's lunch at Cortland Loaves & Fishes, according to city deputy fire chief Wayne Friedman.

Local residents enjoy pizza courtesy of the Cortland Fire Department. The fire department offered to donate the food after a fire forced Cortland Loaves & Fishes to relocate its services (Photo courtesy of Cortland Loaves & Fishes Facebook page).

Local residents enjoy pizza at the Cortland Fire Department. The city firefighter's union offered to donate the food after a fire forced Cortland Loaves & Fishes to relocate its services (Photo courtesy of Cortland Loaves & Fishes Facebook page).

Cortland Loaves & Fishes Executive Director Kim Hill said the organization is waiting for a temporary permit from the county health department to serve its meals at the United Presbyterian Church at 25 Church Street.

Hill said all perishables in the kitchen were destroyed following the fire. She said while the kitchen accepts food donations, their storage space has been drastically reduced since the fire.

"We have monetary needs now," Hill said in a phone interview. "This is very expensive to the program. We run a pretty tight ship as it is, and these are added expenses."

Sean Mack, president of Cortland Loaves & Fishes Board of Directors, says they will be soon be launching a GoFundMe page to help cover the cost of kitchen repairs.

Since Friday's fire, insurance adjustors have conducted preliminary walkthroughs of the building, Friedman said. The cause of the fire was later determined to be accidental due to an electrical issue.

Meal times at United Presbyterian Church will be held as follows:

Monday, Tuesday and Thursday: 11:30 - 1
Wednesday and Friday: 4:30 - 6
Saturday bagged lunch: 11:30 - 12

The organization accepts donations by PayPal on its website or by mail to:

Cortland Loaves & Fishes
13 Court Street
Cortland, NY 13045