Friday, August 5, 2011

Loaves & Fishes Dining Room

Parsley, Celeriac, Ciabatta Bread

The Loaves & Fishes Dining Room is located in the basement of the Lafayette Presbyterian Church of Buffalo and they serve hot meals at lunch time Monday through Friday from 11:30 to 12:30 for anyone who comes through their doors. Their kind  and thoughtful programing serves 32,000 meals annually! They act as a go between for individuals in crisis to sign up for all kinds of support services and help with meeting the daily dietary needs of folks who have a difficult time making ends meet.
As a family that lives at the poverty line, I have had to ask for help from time to time. There is no shame in asking, one's pride is not lessened in the act of accepting help when finances are short. I don't work during the summer, due to my job as a substitute teacher, a job I love as it gives me the flexibility to make money while not exacerbating my disability. I like spending my summer with my children. I like being able to go on daily adventures to the park, the library, visits to MAP's farm,  Tifft Nature Preserve, the beach and so much more. All of which are free or very inexpensive. But lunches, lunches are difficult. Taking my girls out to eat even once a week is not possible, and loading them up with Lunchables or boxed Mac&Cheese alone is unacceptable to me. So knowing we can visit Loaves & Fishes every time we're out on an adventure helps tremendously. Knowing that they'll get a large serving of fruits and vegetables provided by Native Offerings CSA Farms and other area farms, that many dishes are made from local meats, that there is always a slice of hearty whole grain bread on the side and a delightfully unique dessert from Wegman's grocers helps me score major mother karma points! I can also always take home a large bag full of beautiful fruits, wholesome veggies, and gorgeous breads of all sorts. It also means I can stretch my food buying money to purchase local and organic produce and meats and share the resulting dishes with you.
During the school year, I give to this amazing program through food and monetary donations. I encourage you to visit them to check out for yourself all the work that goes into running this everyday and offer to help in whatever way you can. A community that cares, shares the load when life gets difficult. In what little ways can you show you care?
"Can you imagine wondering what you will have to eat for dinner tonight? Not the kind of wondering that leads to a trip to the grocery store, take out restaurant, or night on the town. The kind of wondering that is filled with panic that won’t go away, “What will I have for dinner tonight? How am I going to feed my kids?” Having no fresh milk, vegetables, meat, canned goods. Or maybe having something, but not much and needing to make it look like more. We all have heard stories like this. We are able to read about it and imagine that things aren’t as bad as the author would have us believe. But it happens. It happens to people who live alone. It happens to families. It happens to couples. In this community where we are proud of our title of “Good Neighbors,” people are hungry.
Imagine it is happening to you. What would you do? Where would you turn for help? I would you overcome the feeling of panic or failure that might overcome you as the reality of your situation sinks in? It happens to people in our community and they often turn to the Loaves & Fishes Dining Room our the Potter’s Pantry for assistance. It is hard to swallow one’s pride and ask for help. It is hard to set one’s foot in the door not knowing what kind of reception one might receive. But people have to do it every day. And they come to Concerned Ecumenical Ministry. We listen to their stories, provide some assistance, give them some phone numbers and ideas about what to do next and send them on their way. Sometimes we hear from them. Sometimes we don’t. But always we know they are grateful for the opportunity to tell their story and take some action on the road to recovery from the crisis they are facing."

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