The Diner an oasis in a food desert

Beth Barron loads a tub of canned goods onto a rack in what will become The Lord’s Diner Food Pantry. Barron is coordinator of the Diner’s new effort to supplement groceries for the poor of the neighborhood. (Advance photo)

Want to help with the Diner’s food pantry?

Those interested in donating to help The Lord’s Diner Food Pantry, may call Sarah at 316-266-4966 or email [email protected]. The need is greatest for the homeless outreach. Items such as granola bars, peanut butter and cheese crackers, fruit cups, individually packaged snacks, socks, and travel-size toiletries are greatly needed. Financial support for the Pantry is also needed.

The Lord’s Diner to host a food pantry, assist homeless with snacks

The Lord’s Diner has expanded over the years to accommodate an increased need for its services – and has adapted to situations such as the pandemic.

Once again, the Diner is adapting.

The diocesan ministry to feed the hungry was founded in 2002 in a brick and mortar building located just north of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita. After almost two decades, the ministry has expanded to two brick and mortar diners, three food trucks in Wichita, and a third site in Pittsburg, feeding over 2,000 people each day.

The Lord’s Diner is now focusing on how to assist those in need in the grocery-store barren landscape of downtown Wichita by adding a food pantry to its menu of services.

Area of Diner to be used

A large section of the expanded Diner was previously dedicated to serve as a satellite for another ministry. However, circumstances have changed since then. The space will soon be converted to a food pantry to serve the neighboring area.

“We decided a pantry was feasible because we’re a food ministry,” said Jan Haberly, the Diner’s executive director. “We get a lot of food donations that we can’t always use (for the Diner), so we’ve shared those items with other pantries.”

The community has been generous to the ministry, she said, so a food pantry was a natural progression.

Haberly said the Diner has contacted parishes who don’t have a food pantry ministry and who don’t conduct drives for other ministries to make sure the Diner’s pantry won’t interfere with a parish’s service to the poor.

Pantry a team effort

The pantry operations will be a team effort, she said. Their staff will continue with their current duties while sharing pantry responsibilities.

Beth Barron, one of the staff members coordinating The Lord’s Diner Food Pantry, said the new ministry will serve a corridor within St. Francis and Main streets and from First to Thirteenth streets.

“Individuals and families will have to verify that they live within those parameters to be able to come by every Wednesday to get a bag of supplemental groceries,” she said.

There will also be a homeless outreach.

Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to noon, the homeless can come to a side door at the Diner and get a little bag of snacks such as granola bars and peanut butter crackers, a bottle of water, or a cup of coffee if it’s cold.

Haberly said a recent encounter with a man on the sidewalk outside of the Diner reinforced the need for a homeless outreach.

“He came by and said he was hungry…I had a couple of little packets that I had gotten from the Food Bank and gave those to him. I asked him to pray for us and I told him we’d pray for him.”

The Kansas Food Bank is a food warehouse located in Wichita that partners with hunger relief agencies across the state to deliver food to individuals and families who seek food assistance.