The menu at House Bread changes daily. Christmas Eve, a day reserved for “kind of fun” fare, saw the organization serve Walking Tacos. On Friday, Christmas Day, it whipped up a special holiday meal of ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, vegetables, salad, pie and cookies.
House of Bread is about more than just serving food, Bennett said. In the days prior to Christmas, it handed out toys to children. It also distributed socks and gloves and other warm-wear items to people of all ages, something it will continue to do throughout the winter, Bennett said.
House of Bread’s growth over the years has been gradual, starting off by serving meals two days a week and branching out to Monday through Friday then Monday through Saturday and various holidays before expanding in 2010 to its 365-days-a-year model.
Creating and serving hundreds of nutritionally-balanced meals every day comes with its share of challenges, which the COVID-19 pandemic has multiplied and magnified, she said.
Instead of being able to seat 130 people at a time, it now can only seat 15, with the majority of its meals ending up as carry-outs. Typically, the cooking and serving of a day’s meal is the work of about 20 people — 15 volunteers and as many as five of House of Bread’s 15 staffers. During the pandemic, when the group nixed its volunteer efforts and cut the size of its crew for safety reasons, eight staffers are responsible for each day’s meal.
House of Bread’s meals are always delicious and the kindness shown by staffers and volunteers is “a blessing,” said Diana Aughenbaugh.
“They’re giving their time and I appreciate that very much,” Aughenbaugh said as she ate her meal outside.
Jeff Meinke, who sat and dined nearby, said what means the most to him about House of Bread is “they actually care about people.” That includes not just providing lunch each day, but also paying people’s bills and giving away clothing and essential grocery items.
“Anything you need and you ask them, they’ll go out of their way to help you get it,” Meinke said. “It takes special people like that to do what they do. Without them I don’t know what I’d do. I’d be hungry.”
To learn more about House of Bread, or to donate, visit www.houseofbread.org or www.facebook.com/365hob.