Paul Ryan's Soup Kitchen Campaign Visit, Photo-Op Criticized

Volunteer On Ryan Soup Kitchen Visit: 'Phoniest Piece Of Baloney I've Ever Been Associated With'

No soup for you, Paul Ryan.

That seems to be the opinion of a soup kitchen president in Youngstown, Ohio, who’s saying the Republican Vice Presidential candidate made a campaign stop at the Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society without permission from the charity's president. Now Ryan's visit is jeopardizing private funding for the faith-based charity organization, according to the Washington Post.

After an appearance nearby, Ryan reportedly used the soup kitchen for a 15-minute photo opportunity on his way to the airport. Problem is, most of the patrons and volunteers had already left, CBS News reports.

“It was the phoniest piece of baloney I’ve ever been associated with. In hindsight, I would have never let him in the door,” volunteer Juanita Sherba told Youngstown’s After being contacted by a Ryan campaign aide, Sherba agreed to the visit, a decision president Brian J. Antal says wasn’t hers to make.

“They couldn’t have cared less,” she added, noting that Ryan seemed to have little interest in talking to patrons. The campaign even prohibited reporters from covering conversations Ryan had with a few homeless men outside the kitchen.

But the visit could cause real problems for the soup kitchen; Antel says he's already received calls from some donors threatening to pull their funding -- one of the most important resources for the charity.

"It’s strictly in our bylaws not to do it,” Antal told WaPo of hosting campaign events due to the organization's "apolitical" status. “I’d have the same problem if [Vice President] Joe Biden or [President] Barack Obama came down there,” he elaborated to

Ryan's soup kitchen stop isn't the first to elicit controversy, though. A Romney campaign event at an Ohio mine had several employees complaining that they had been forced to attend the event while giving up a day’s pay, complaints echoed by some soup kitchen volunteers who stayed late to accommodate Ryan.

Meanwhile, President Obama’s campaign visit to a pizza restaurant last month made headlines for the overly enthusiastic welcome he received from the owner, including the now infamous “bear hug.”

CORRECTION: Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society President Brian Antal has since said that the Washington Post mischaracterized his statements, and that Paul Ryan did clean dirty dishes, according to He attributes his previous story to an incorrect second-hand account.

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