WILKES-BARRE – Clients of the St. Vincent de Paul Kitchen were treated to a special pizza lunch Thursday afternoon thanks to the generosity of Little Caesars Pizza and one of its local franchise owners.
The "Love Kitchen," an 18-wheel rig outfitted with pizza ovens and coolers, rolled into Wilkes-Barre to dish out 96 pizzas to feed more than 300 people.
Established in 1985, the mobile kitchen has provided free pizza to more than 2 million needy people in 48 states and parts of Canada.
It has also responded to numerous disasters, including recent tornado outbreaks in the south the hurricanes in the Gulf Coast area in 2005 and 2008.
The visit to St. Vincent de Paul on Jackson Street was part of a tour of Northeast, which also included a stop at a soup kitchen in Scranton, said David Fox, the truck's driver.
"It was designed as a way for the corporation and local franchisees to give back to the community," Fox said. "It's a treat for them and it gives the staff a break from cooking and to save money to use elsewhere."
Thursday's meal was made possible thanks to Joseph and Kristene Sciandra, owners of the Little Caesars franchise restaurant located in the Narrows Shopping Center in Edwardsville.
The Sciandras donated all supplies to make the pizzas and provided the manpower to prepare the food. The couple, who have owned the restaurant for eight years, said they were contacted by Little Caesars corporate office and were pleased to help out.
"It's one way we can give back to the community," Joseph Sciandra said. "We're happy to do it."
Mike Cianciotta, manager of the kitchen, said the pizza was a nice change of pace for clients. Thursday is typically macaroni and meatball day.
"They're excited about it because it's something different," he said.
The donated meals will also help the kitchen's finances. It feeds approximately 300 people for lunch daily. It also offers dinner on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
"For them to go around doing this is great. It helps us by saving us a day of meals," Cianciotta said.
The pizza was a big hit with clients like Randy Hunsinger of Hanover Township. He said he goes to the kitchen frequently for lunch. The pizza was a nice surprise.
"Two thumbs up, definitely," Hunsinger said.
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