It was just over a month ago that Breakin’ Bread opened its doors to area residents, providing hot, healthy meals to those in need.
It was just over a month ago that Breakin’ Bread opened its doors to area residents, providing hot, healthy meals to those in need. As expected, visitors on opening weekend consisted primarily of supporters, organizers, and those curious to see this amazing resource now available to members of the community. Since that time, the soup kitchen has received a steady stream of visitors of a different sort. These are people that show up to take advantage of what the kitchen has to offer, and ultimately these visitors are the most important of all, since they are the people the kitchen is meant to serve.
Organizers of the kitchen have held true to their intent with the kitchen. Although it was envisioned and founded by the local religious community, the kitchen has not become a place to proselytize or bombard visitors with sermons or pamphlets. “It’s really nice here,” said one visitor I spoke with. “We come here every time they’re open. The meals are great and the people are even greater. They’re just here to help us eat with no hook or makin’ us feel ashamed. I’ve never had one person tell me I need to go to their church because I’m eating here.” Another visitor I spoke with said “I come here every Friday and Saturday. I tell my neighbors about it and they say ‘That’s for poor people’ and I say ‘But you’re poor. You would rather go spend what little money you have at McDonald’s than accept some help?’” Indeed this may be one of the biggest hurdles the kitchen will face. Many people in need refuse to accept the notion that they could use help as well. Pride may be the most persistent obstacle in feeding Cleburne residents in need.
The original motivation for creating the kitchen was concern for children on assisted or free lunches in school. Pastor Tommy Toombs of the First United Methodist Church in Heber Springs felt that some children might not have access to decent meals on the weekends when school wasn’t in session. While the project has grown into something much bigger, the desire to feed area children is still present. “We haven’t seen many children,” said one organizer. “We want to feed them, but the only way we can is if their parents bring them. We hope to start seeing more as time goes on.”
Volunteers are encouraged and are welcome to help as their time allows. “You don’t have to be in a local congregation somewhere to come and volunteer. If you have a heart to do that, that you can help someone by doing that, then come down and volunteer,” said Toombs. As one organizer told me while looking at the visitors being fed, “We’re the ones that feel truly blessed.”
Word is spreading about the kitchen and organizers have been busy trying to get the information out to the public. In a community like ours, word of mouth is the greatest advertisement available, so if you know anyone in need, let them know about Breakin’ Bread. It is a safe place to go, the food is healthy, the volunteers are some of the kindest people you will meet, and it is there for anyone who needs it.
Breakin’ Bread is located at 714 Scott St in Heber Springs, in the old OES building. Meals are served on Fridays and Saturdays from 4-6pm.
Breakin’ Bread will be one of our feature stories in the Spring edition of Lake Lifestyles magazine. Look for it in racks in early May.