More eating at Lord's Diner

The dishwasher at the Lord's Diner was on overload in June, executive director Wendy Glick said Thursday.

The Lord's Diner served 14,805 meals in June — the highest monthly total in its eight-year history — and Glick doesn't expect things to slow down for the rest of the summer. She said the record was surprising because the highest numbers usually occur in July and August.

The diner also set a record June 29 for most meals served in one night — 655.

In addition to an increase in traffic, the diner is seeing another trend because of the economy: People are running out of money more quickly and are coming to the Lord's Diner near the 15th of the month instead of the end.

"It just seems to be hitting earlier in the month and at a much larger scale as well," she said.

The previous long-term increase in traffic resulted from Wichita's troubled post-9/11 economy, Glick said. Numbers spiked in 2006 and leveled off from 2007 to 2008 before increasing in 2009.

"I think it'll probably be the first part of the year before we see our numbers go down and see things change for people here locally," she said.

The Lord's Diner has not done any additional fundraisers to pay for more meals, although Glick said the organization will use up some resources more quickly if the numbers continue.

Another local nonprofit organization, Episcopal Social Services, also saw increased traffic from 2008, serving about 5,000 more meals in 2009. Shannon Wedge, development coordinator for the organization, said this year's number will probably exceed the 20,000-plus lunches served in 2009.

To pay for the increased number of meals, Wedge said Episcopal Social Services has been applying for more grants and fundraising for basic needs.

The organization, which started serving free lunches in 1983, found that 85 percent of its patrons were unemployed, according to a survey in October and November of 2009. Wedge said she's yet to see signs of a rebounding economy.

"I think that definitely it will take longer to trickle down to the populations that we serve," she said.

United Way of the Plains president Pat Hanrahan said numbers at the United Way Laid-Off Workers Center have been decreasing since September 2009, something he finds unusual. He attributed the decrease to extensions of unemployment compensation, but said numbers could increase once people have exhausted those resources.

The center opens when communities have seen massive layoffs, Hanrahan said. The center, at 2622 W. Central, opened in June 2009. A previous center opened after 9/11.

For July, 180 people have registered for appointments, more than doubling the 75 from June. The next registration period is July 19 to 23. To sign up, dial 211.

"We are going to be committed to helping as long as we are needed there," Hanrahan said.

Related stories from Wichita Eagle