5,000 Meal Milestone

November 6, 2013

Two years a great difference makes. Around this time two years ago, BSM’s new kitchen finally opened after major renovation work that lasted six months. We were all grateful for the generosity of our many benefactors, including Doylestown Presbyterian Church, who made that important upgrade possible. At the same time, we did not hold great confidence that we could successfully implement the implied hope of alleviating the hunger of many more of our fellow Philadelphians. Back then we served one Breaking Bread on Thursdays at lunchtime to about 130 guests and the congregation hosted a Sunday evening dinner of about 100. That added up to an astonishing (at least at the time) 900 meals each month.

The community then made the decision to expand the meals and services we were offering. More staff were hired – most notably Carrie, our Managing Director, and Steve, our Chef – and the early contours of the Hospitality Collaborative began to emerge. Carrie and Bill had one charge to the Breaking Bread team, and that was to dramatically increase the number of meals served and social services offered, while at the same time lowering the stress level in the dining room and remaining true to the core BSM values of hospitality and relationship.

So where are we now, two years after the new kitchen was unveiled? Instead of two meals, we now have four Breaking Breads during the week. There are a few on the team who remember a time when there were 130 guests at the meals and services, but most only know of how things are now – usually 300 to 400 guests each weekday we are open, and about 150 guests on Saturdays (where we purposely limit our service offerings to make sure that some of our most vulnerable guests still feel safe enough to join us for a meal).

In October we broke through another milestone. For the first time we served more than 5,000 guests in a single month! Well, 5,546 to be exact (we still count everything). While we are proud of the team that has been able to step up, and respond to Bill’s charge to “grow hospitably”, we are also aware that these increased numbers speak also to the dedication of our volunteers, our need for even more volunteers, and more financial support.

Given the tenor of the times, we do not expect the numbers of our guests to decrease. And given Bill’s (and our entire community’s) commitment to radical hospitality, we do expect that we will continue to serve our guests the same way we did way back then – one meal at a time, and one guest at a time. New kitchen, new numbers, new staff, some things don’t change. We continue to serve our guests “The BSM Way”.