Plano-Coudon volunteers for the early shift at Our Daily Bread

With more than 700 people coming through its doors almost every day, Our Daily Bread is Maryland’s largest meal program for people affected by poverty and homelessness  … and so much more.

Located on the Fallsway in downtown Baltimore, Our Daily Bread serves breakfast every weekday and lunch every single day “and I mean every day,” said Kimberlee Kahl, volunteer manager at Our Daily Bread, a division of Catholic Charities. “We have been open for 34 years and we have never closed ever, not for snow storms or hurricanes or anything. We sleep here if we need to in order to keep the kitchen open.”

On average, the organization serves 500-700 people each lunchtime – a meal that includes about 90 casseroles each day, about 90 gallons of iced tea, stacks of bread and produce (the meal always includes a vegetarian option), and dessert when it’s available. In total, Our Daily Bread served more than a quarter of a million meals to people in need in 2014.

Once a month, Plano-Coudon employees staff the breakfast service, arriving around 7:30 am, setting up tables, serving as waiters throughout the meal, then cleaning up and resetting the room for the enormous lunch service.

Office Administrator Rosalind Gray said she appreciates Our Daily Bread’s practice of serving people at their tables rather than asking them to stand in line to pick up food.

“There is more dignity this way,” she said. “I talk to everybody and I serve them like they were sitting at a presidential dinner. I make sure they have everything they need at breakfast and I want them to have the best time possible while they are there because I don’t know what the rest of their day will bring.”

Our Daily Bread, however, is more than a food service. The Fallsway facility also includes an employment center that offers job-readiness classes, job-placement services, GED classes, and help with obtaining needed clothing, medical assistance, food stamps and other aid. The building also houses the Christopher Place Employment Academy – a residential program that guides about 60 men at a time through an 18-month program to help them return to the workforce and establish stable lives.

Our Daily Bread’s operations are delivered by about three dozen staff and more than 7,000 unique volunteers each year.

“We are so lucky to have our volunteers,” Kahl said. “It’s the only way we could do this.”