An organization that provides deeply discounted hot meals to people in need in Gatineau, and also runs a breakfast program for 35 schools, confirms it will close because it's $500,000 in debt.

La Soupière de l’Amitié de Gatineau — or Tureen of Friendship of Gatineau ​— opened in 1986 and operates on Notre Dame Street. It serves lunches to 35 to 40 homeless people each day and on weekdays it also operates a breakfast program for 35 schools in the area.

Louise Petitclerc La Soupière de l'Amitié de Gatineau closing

Louise Petitclerc, who sits on the board of directors of La Soupière de l'Amitié de Gatineau, has said "it's not just a lunch service, it's a place where [people] feel that they belong." (CBC)

At a general meeting on Thursday night, members of the organization decided to declare bankruptcy.

The debts are too high and nobody wants to give money to a group in that situation, said Joseph De Sylva, who’s the chairman of the board and the interim CEO.

It costs the non-profit group about $800,000 to run the kitchen each year, which it collected from bingo halls and through donations and fundraising. It receives no government funding.

The group says donations have decreased and bingo halls closed. They remortgaged their building on Notre Dame, which left them with $120,000 in debt, and the Canada Revenue Agency says the group owes $172,000 in back taxes for the personal income of employees, which wasn't remitted.

Advisers had recommended the organization shut down. They'll continue to provide breakfasts in schools until the end of the school year, June 13.

A bankruptcy trustee at Ginsberg Gingras takes over after that.