Eatery feeds the poor when church can't

There was much applause Sunday amid whoops of joy and "amens" — and something that the Rev. Shedra Moore equated to an "Oprah Moment."

It was at the Midtown Community Resource Center at 11th and Broadway as members of the Word of the Lord church gathered for their annual Thanksgiving meal.

Until a few days ago, it looked like the dinner that the church has been providing to the poor for the past 13 years had to be canceled. All the key players had fallen ill. Moore, the church's pastor, had sprained an ankle.

As people trickled into the center for the dinner, she told them this story:

"As you are walking in the door and you look around and wonder, 'Where's all the food?' just know because of illness, we were not able to do the meal."

But Bishop's Family Dining at 4200 W. Kellogg Drive said it would donate the food, cook and serve the meal free to 300 people if the church provided transportation to the restaurant Sunday afternoon.

And that, Moore said, she could do.

Three buses waited at the doors to transport the congregation — mostly poverty-level and homeless people — to Bishop's.

"We are going to make sure everybody gets food," Moore told them. "Let's give the Lord a hand, amen.... It's our 'Oprah Moment.' "

Bishop's manager Luu Le said Sunday he was looking for a way to give back to Wichita.

He has been manager of the west Wichita restaurant for five years.

He said Moore was a regular and would often come in on Sunday nights for take-out.

He heard that Moore's church dinner might be canceled and said he wanted to step forward, even changing the restaurant's menu Sunday to offer more Thanksgiving foods.

Daegiona Thompson, 8, said she was looking forward to a slice of ham. She got that and cherry pie, too.

Larry Williams helped himself to Waldorf salad, barbecue chicken, cottage cheese lime gelatin, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn bread, fish, yams and a slice of coconut cream pie.

"My meals are hard to come by," he said. "My family has passed on. I am thankful for this."

More than 250 people were treated to the dinner.

Moore said Sunday that the meal was about being thankful.

"Thankfulness is always in season," she told the congregation. "A miracle has happened. A restaurant said to us they wanted to give back to the community.... This meal is for you. How many of you are touched that someone in the community cares about you?"

It meant everything to Michael Clark, who said he otherwise may not have had a Thanksgiving.

He had chicken, ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, tossed salad, cauliflower, green beans and pumpkin pie.

"Oh mercy, I don't get to eat this way often," he said.