Ryan soup kitchen ‘stunt’ spins out of control, Society president says

Ryan soup kitchen ‘stunt’ spins out of control, Society president says


Mahoning County’s St. Vincent de Paul Society president said his critical comments about Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s visit to the soup kitchen have “managed to upset both” political parties.

“This whole thing has spun out of control,” Brian J. Antal, who runs the society, said today at a press conference at its dining hall.

Antal said he’s received numerous calls from Democrats and Republicans about the visit.

Antal said Monday that he was “shocked” and “angry” that Ryan used the soup kitchen for a “publicity stunt” on Saturday after a town-hall meeting at Youngstown State University.

Antal contacted The Vindicator and The Washington Post on Monday to “clear the air.” After the two organizations reported on the incident, it quickly became national news.

Antal today repeated what he said Monday: his objection was Ryan using the soup kitchen for political purposes.

If he is elected vice president, Ryan would be welcomed to volunteer at the dining hall as long as it’s not during a campaign and without turning it into a media event, Antal said.

“I didn’t want to make this a negative on the guy,” Antal said of Ryan. “I’m not here to blast anybody. We have no [political] affiliation with anyone.”

Juanita Sherba, St. Vincent’s Saturday coordinator for the dining hall, gave the Ryan campaign permission to have the candidate and his family come to the downtown location.

She said it was a mistake.

The event was completely staged by the campaign, including having volunteers not clean a few pots and pans so Ryan and his family could be photographed doing that work, Sherba said.

Antal confirmed Sherba’s account today.

For the complete story, read Wednesday’s Vindicator and Vindy.com