BBJ: Catholic Charities Executive Director reflects on years of change at Our Daily Bread

Editor’s note: The following article appeared on on June 10, 2016.

By Melody Simmons

This month, one of Baltimore’s most beloved addresses celebrated its 35th anniversary.

It’s popularity is a mixed bag: Our Daily Bread is a soup kitchen for the city’s downtrodden and homeless — and at the same time it is also a beacon of hope and hospitality offering shelter, health care and job training alongside a meal.

I caught up with Bill McCarthy, executive director of Catholic Charities, which runs Our Daily Bread.

How did Catholic Charities mark the 35th anniversary of Our Daily Bread? We had a couple of sponsors — one was Little Caesar’s — and they sent over a lot of pizzas and reduced prices for the rest, so we bought some with a donation from Goodell, DeVries, Leech & Dann LLP. So we served pizza for lunch and it was fun.

Has the mission of ODB changed over the past 35 years in Baltimore? Our Daily Bread really started out when some Sisters began to hand out about 60 sandwiches each day to the hungry in the alley behind the Basilica. Since then, we’ve served 7.4 million meals. We serve breakfast five days a week and lunch seven days a week. And it takes 35-50 volunteers a day to help run the dining program. To date, we have served meals 12,785 consecutive days. We’ve never missed a day.

Describe your real estate. We started out in the alley and then moved to an old row house at Franklin Street and Park Avenue. Then we moved to 17 W. Franklin St. that is now the site of My Sister’s Place. Nine years ago, we moved to our current location at 725 Fallsway that was renamed the Our Daily Bread Employment Center. It cost $14 million. What we did in addition to meals was to have the Christopher Place employment academy there and it allows us to offer a whole host of case management, health care and employment to clients.

Have you seen more families and children showing up hungry? Over the years, the face of people who are hungry has changed. It’s not just people that are experiencing hunger or homelessness. Look at our dining room: there’s a whole section for families alongside couples, and individuals. The demographic runs the whole age bracket.

Source: Baltimore Business Journal

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