Demand up, donations down — Our Daily Bread in need of help to feed those in need

Volunteers at Our Daily Bread package to-go meals to meet an increased demand at the soup kitchen.

ENID, Okla. — With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to impact jobs and the economy, Our Daily Bread is seeing a continued increase in demand, but a slump in volunteers and donations to meet the need.

"Ever since COVID began, the demand for meals has continued to go up," said Deacon Val Ross, director of the Our Daily Bread soup kitchen, at 616 W. Randolph.

By the end of the month, when low-income families' cash is gone, Ross said up to 600 people a day come to Our Daily Bread for meals — about a 50% increase over pre-COVID numbers.

Our Daily Bread was forced to close for two weeks in September due to a COVID-19 exposure at the soup kitchen. Salvation Army of Enid, with support from local churches and nonprofits, filled that gap. But, the two-week closure didn't slow down demand.

As soon as Our Daily Bread reopened, Ross said the number of people coming for meals continued to go up.

"I just hope it will level off," Ross said, "or if the numbers continue to go up, we will have the donations and the volunteers we need to meet the demand."

One of the biggest demands right now, Ross said, is volunteers.

The soup kitchen runs on the efforts of a dedicated corps of volunteers, but Ross said more people are needed to keep things going.

Costs have increased significantly, because of the increased number of people coming for meals, but also because all meals now are served outside, in to-go containers and disposable cups and flatware — all of which has to be purchased, above and beyond the normal operating budget.

And, while costs have gone up, donations are down.

"Donations are way down, as far as money goes," Ross said. The soup kitchen now is about 30% behind on its donations from the same time last year.

While times are hard, Ross said he's confident the need will be met — because it always is.

"In the midst of all this chaos, God, as he always does, continues to provide for us and for the people we serve," Ross said.

Oftentimes, Ross said the soup kitchen will be short some item that's essential to get through the next meal. Invariably, after prayer, Ross said the needed items, or the cash to purchase what's needed, shows up at the back door.

"There are miracles that happen here every day," Ross said.

To volunteer with Our Daily Bread, contact Ross at ODBread@att.net or call (580) 242-5718. Volunteers must be 18 years old or older.

Monetary donations to support the soup kitchen can be made payable to Our Daily Bread and mailed to St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, 110 N. Madison, Enid, OK 73701.

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Neal is health, military affairs and religion reporter and columnist for the Enid News & Eagle. Follow him on Twitter, @jamesnealwriter, and online at jamesrneal.com.
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