Feed My Sheep has served 3,000 meals a month, seven days a week, for more than 15 years in its soup kitchen on Main Street in Newport, but it is now looking for a new home.
The agency relies on individual volunteers, as well as churches in the community, to keep its doors open.
Owner of the building, James Saltzman, went into Cocke County General Sessions Court alleging Dayton and Carol Livingston had damaged the property and had not paid the rent for several months.
Judge Brad Davidson recused himself from the case because of a conflict.
Mrs. Livingston says a portion of a bathroom was in deteriorated condition and a wall in the building was removed five years ago. She says the rent has been paid.
Following a hearing on June 14, Jefferson County General Sessions Judge Dennis Roach ordered the payment of $2,850 and ordered Feed My Sheep to vacate the property within 10 days.
Mrs. Livingston says there have been multiple issues with the building.
“We had a disagreement over the front door because it slammed shut, and I was concerned about children and the elderly. We talked to him for two months. Last year we worked for three months without air conditioning and the health department wrote us up for having a leak in the roof.” She said she tried to talk to the court about those issues but he declined to hear her concerns saying they did not pertain to the case.
Mrs. Livingston also said she did not grant access to the food warehouse as Salzman had requested some time ago.
The soup kitchen has been ordered from the building by June 24, but the question is to where?
“We don’t know, we are depending on the community to help us. (Commissioner) Forrest Clevenger has been a godsend,” she said. The defendant says she was told her agency would be required to post a year’s rent if she wants to appeal the eviction.
“This is our 18th year in this ministry, this is who we are; I love these people because I grew up as a kid without food, so I understand.”
Initial plans are to move the equipment from the building and store it in the former Cosby Creek Distillery warehouse across the street, but that site is not appropriate for long-term use as a soup kitchen.
The court delayed ruling on the issue of the March rent as well as the damage issue. They are to be addressed at another court hearing set for Aug. 9.