Our Daily Bread food pantry goes drive-thru

One of Our Daily Bread’s clients lined up behind cars with her cart. Those receiving food are asked to provide information that helps the ministry and those donating food understand the needs. (Advance photos)


Want to help the pantry?
If you wish to donate to Our Daily Bread, visit Give.CatholicCharitiesWichita.org/hungry2helpict or call 316-264-8344, ext. 1262. Catholic Charities’ food pantry, located at 2825 S. Hillside in Wichita, is open from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. It is also open from 9 a.m. to noon on the fourth Saturday of the month.

Joe Seitz doesn’t need to listen to the news to know that the community’s food needs are growing. He only needs to look at his statistics.

Seitz, program director of Our Daily Bread Food Pantry, said the numbers of families and individuals seeking assistance at the Catholic Charities ministry are up 36 percent compared to this same time last year.

Forty-one percent of those who visit the pantry are there because they have been laid off or are working fewer hours, he said, adding that over 5,000 people received help from the ministry in April.

“We don’t want people to go to bed hungry,” Seitz said last week as cars lined up at the front door for drive-thru service. “We know that in America there is food insecurity and we want to make sure that we’re doing our part to make sure we’re helping our communities.”

Pandemic necessitated changes at pantry

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the ministry in two ways: the number of people needing food is up because shelter-at-home orders closed many businesses who had to lay-off or furlough employees; and in cases where jobs weren’t lost, grandparents on a limited income had to begin taking care of children who would normally be in school.

The pandemic also forced the pantry to change the way it serves its clientele.

“Our Daily Bread had been a client choice pantry, which simply means we’re set up like a grocery store where clients check-in and they’re able to choose their own items as they go through the pantry,” he said.

That model has been changed because of health issues associated with the pandemic.

Ministry goes drive-thru

“We had to take away that client-choice model and move it to what we call a drive-thru model, Seitz said.

“Now we are changing things inside where we’re making this more of a warehouse. We’re bringing shipments in and…pre-bagging and pre-boxing, and then delivering those out the door through a drive-thru method as we’re doing today.”

Neither model would work without the generous volunteers, Seitz said.
“We have some of the most faithful people that you can imagine,” he said, adding that like The Lord’s Diner, his volunteer base has diminished because of volunteer health concerns. “The model we now have allows us to operate with fewer people. It helps us make up that gap from losing volunteers during this time.”

The recent announcement by Spirit AeroSystems regarding additional layoffs is cause for additional concern, he said.

“We expect this to be a slow recovery,” Seitz said, adding that the need for his clients will be great “until the economy has a chance to really recover and society has a chance to really get back on their feet.”