Unlike students, who may only be confronted with the worldwide issues of hunger and homelessness during one November week at Chaminade Julienne, guest speaker Melodie Bennett literally faces the problem on a daily basis at the local level as the executive director of the House of Bread.
The House of Bread is a not-for-profit community kitchen located at 9 Orth Ave. in downtown Dayton. In January 2010, the organization transitioned from operating six days per week to welcoming guests every day at lunchtime. The dining room, open 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, sees an average of 220 people come through its doors each day.
“I can’t imagine living in a community where we didn’t care for the hungry and homeless,” Bennett told CJ religion and English students.
Before preparing to serve hundreds of guests on the morning of Tuesday, Nov. 12—the second day of Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week (HHAW)—Bennett visited CJ to share her firsthand experiences and answer questions on the topic. The school’s HHAW efforts, organized annually by the office of ministry and service to precede the Thanksgiving holiday, are aimed at educating the CJ community and collecting donations for the less fortunate.
“No one chooses to be poor, or hungry, or homeless or to live in poverty,” Bennett explained. “There is not one single reason why someone may end up needing our services.”
In addition to feeding hot meals to all comers, the House of Bread also provides clothing vouchers to St. Vincent de Paul stores and helps guests locate shelter and emergency services.
“I hope students will take away the idea that no matter how big or small, there is something that everyone can do to make a postive impact on hunger and homelessness in their community,” Bennett said.
BAGGING LUNCHES FOR THE HUNGRY
Thursday, Nov. 17 is “Fast Day” at CJ. Students are encouraged to fast – if not from a whole meal, then from junk food or soda – during all lunch periods. Freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors are also invited to help prepare bagged lunches in the cafeteria, which will be donated to the House of Bread.
Visit the House of Bread's Web site, houseofbread.org, for more information about opportunities to volunteer and/or donate.