Lord’s Diner a blessing

Nine years, 365 nights a year, many thousands of volunteers and donations — as if the outpouring of caring since 2002 at the Lord’s Diner at Broadway and Central weren’t enough, Wichita now has been blessed with a second Lord’s Diner location, at 2825 S. Hillside.

And the single site wasn’t enough, judging from the increasing need reported by food pantries, or census numbers showing 60,000 people living in poverty in Sedgwick County, or the more than 70 percent of children in USD 259 who qualify to receive free or reduced-price lunch.

That’s why the Catholic Diocese of Wichita felt called to open a satellite location. First it looked to East 21st Street, where neighbors worried a soup kitchen would deter revitalization. After dropping that plan in late 2009, the Lord’s Diner considered southeast Wichita, settling on the former site of the Bread of Life food pantry.

Just 74 people turned out for Monday’s first meal at the new Lord’s Diner, compared with the average 450 served nightly at the original site and the 500 anticipated for the south site’s debut.

But it’s likely that the new neighborhood soon will embrace the Lord’s Diner, which serves a free meal to all comers, no questions asked, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. nightly.

Even before the facility opened, it had found many volunteers from the neighborhood to serve among the 900 a month it needs. If tradition holds, the volunteers will feel their faith fortified and their spirit lifted by their service there.

To help, call 316-266-4966, visit the website catholicdioceseofwichita.org  , or e-mail volunteer@thelordsdiner.org  .

“To recognize Christ, to love one another, to share life, in the breaking of the bread.” Now, the Lord’s Diner has multiplied that mission statement by two.

What a wonderful gift to the community from the diocese, and the nondenominational army that has served the mission of the Lord’s Diner for all these meals and years.

As long as there are hungry people to feed in Wichita, may neither Lord’s Diner lack for donors or volunteers.

— For the editorial board, Rhonda Holman