Soup kitchen launches 1st lunchtime event

The 90-person capacity room of the Daily Bread Soup Kitchen filled up quickly Friday morning as 200 hungry men, women and children were treated to a rare meal of pizza and calzones. EatCU, a local food guide website, worked with area businesses to supply 40 pizzas and 10 calzones for its first-ever lunch event, “EatCUOP Kitchen.”

The uncommon main course offering — courtesy of Papa John’s Pizza, Domino’s Pizza, Fire Station Pizza and Pub, D.P. Dough and Rosati’s Pizza — could be part of the reason why the kitchen served more people than usual, said Zarina Hock, Friday crew chief and board member for the Daily Bread Soup Kitchen. The soup kitchen also relies on food donations from community members in addition to local businesses. She said the kitchen often serves a ham or beef-based main course, but also offers other well-liked foods such as spaghetti and other “standard, basic all-American food.”

Hock said the kitchen’s chefs are “extremely good” at using the limited available ingredients to create new ideas for everyday meals. The soup kitchen also hosts “Taco Tuesdays,” supplied by El Toro, and gives out hot dogs from Sonic and bread from Panera Bread on a regular basis. The lunchtime soup kitchen is only open during the week, but a group of students helps to prepare about 400 sack lunches with coffee every weekend.

Danielle Reading, marketing intern for EatCU, said the restaurants that donated food were receptive to the idea of helping the soup kitchen.

Dan O’Donnell, volunteer at the kitchen, said attendance was likely higher than usual because the month is about halfway completed, meaning some people have already spent their monthly paycheck and must rely on the soup kitchen for food. He said he expects a “big amount of people for the rest of the month” as more people will deplete the rest of their monthly food funds.

Urbana resident Tim Tucker said he tries to supply his own food when he can and only comes to the kitchen for meals when it is a necessity. He said he has had to come to the kitchen every day this week, however, because he is struggling to pay off the remaining portion of a loan.

The idea for “EatCUOP Kitchen” originated with Reading after she was hired last fall as an intern. She said she and the rest of the association’s EatCU committee members made plans to move forward with the idea over spring break.

She said her committee and EatCU hopes to continue Friday’s “big success” next fall when they plan to host “EatCUOP Kitchen” one Friday per month. Hock said the kitchen would also like to see Friday’s lunch become a regular event.

“Our guests would love it and we would love it,” she said.