Three months after serving their first free meal, the organizers of Our Daily Bread Dining Room of M.O.T. say they're looking to make the community soup kitchen into a five-day-a-week operation with its own facility.
"There is definitely a need out there and we have more than enough volunteers to sustain us if and when we expand," said Edna Cale, a member of the Appoquinimink school board and the spokesperson for Our Daily Bread. "We've been holding fundraisers to help us raise the money we would need to operate in a new facility. All we need now is a location."
Since January, Our Daily Bread has been serving an average of 40 free, hot lunches in Dale Memorial United Methodist Church at 143 E. Lake St. from noon to 2 p.m. on the first and third Mondays of the month.
Cale and other representatives of the all-volunteer soup kitchen said the church has been a supportive host, but scheduling the use of its recently-added wing has placed limits on the length of time and frequency Our Daily Bread can provide meals.
"Right now, the two meals a month that we are providing are two meals that people don't have to worry about where their food is going to come from," Cale said. "But we know we can do more, and we know there is more need in the community."
Although Our Daily Bread first began serving free meals in December, the group got its start in the fall of 2011 when several town residents approached the Middletown Action Network with an interest in launching a local soup kitchen.
Following an assessment study of the need in the community, the Middletown Action Network backed the proposal and Our Daily Bread was awarded federal nonprofit status in February 2012.
"We chose to open at Dale Memorial United Methodist because, in order to serve meals, we have to meet certain food handling and sanitary guidelines, and the church has a brand new kitchen that meets every code requirement," explained Middletown Town Planner Tim DeSchepper, the president of Our Daily Bread.
Most of the food served by Our Daily Bread is donated to the organization and then prepared on site by volunteers. The church also provides canned items and other non-perishable foods for people to take home.
Volunteer coordinator Betty Sorrell said that while the church has been a great place for Our Daily Bread to get off the ground, the location also has presented some drawbacks.
"Although we're non-denominational, we've heard that some people who might need a hot meal won't come here because it's a church and that makes them uncomfortable," she said. "We also have a pool of about 80 volunteers, but only a core group of about 25 come out regularly, because some of them think we should be providing the service more often."
Page 2 of 2 - Cale and Sorrell said Our Daily Bread has not yet found a new location for the soup kitchen.
"Ideally, we'd like to be near where the Boys & Girls Club is (at 14 S. Broad St.), or somewhere that local businesses won't be concerned about having people stopping in," Sorrell said. "We've never had any problem whatsoever, but we know some business owners say they don't want a large crowd hanging around."
In the meantime, Our Daily Bread will continue to provide lunch twice a month at Dale Memorial United Methodist Church to anyone who needs it, regardless of income, employment or other need-based factors.
"We'll feed anyone regardless of whether you're in need or what section of town you live in," Cale said. "All you have to do is come through that door."
Upcoming fundraisers for Our Daily Bread
Our Daily Bread Dining Room will be holding the following fundraisers to continuing paying rent at Dale Memorial United Methodist Church, as well as to generate funds eventually to be used to find a new location:
March 29 – Fish Fry from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Middletown Academy Building, 216 N. Broad St.; $7 per sandwich, $9 per dinner, which includes a sandwich, two sides and cookies
June 8 – Flapjacks for Funds Raffle from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at Applebee's, 320 Dove Run Centre Blvd.; a portion of the $10 all-you-can-eat breakfast will benefit Our Daily Bread. Event also to feature raffle. Raffle tickets are $1 each, 3 for $5, and 13 for $10.