Record Breaking Breaking Bread!

October 7, 2013

Those of us holding BSM’s long-term memory (well the last four years or so anyway), recall a time when having 150 guests join us for lunch on a given Thursday was enough to give the staff a case of the vapors. Those days are quite literally a distant memory. More than a year ago BSM’s board and leadership decided to expand our reach and address the suffering that visited the sanctuary in a more comprehensive way. Since then the number of guests each week coming to the four Breaking Breads we host each week has been steadily rising. On one Thursday at the end of August that number rose to an astonishing 458 guests.

We do not know quite what to make of this yet, but we do see a trend line that aligns with what we read in the newspapers, and what we hear from our guests. The safety net ­– frayed as it already was – is unraveling even more. There is also the realization by our guests over time that, when they come through our red doors and enter the dining room, they can rest in the assurance that there will be enough food for them. And possibly for some of our guests it is because after three years of calm in the dining room, they are now beginning to trust that Breaking Bread is a place where they can feel safe. A place where they can rest. There are no doubt other reasons for this increase as well. All we can do is live into the mystery of it all.

These burgeoning numbers are of course not limited to the meals. We have seen a spike in the number of subscribers to the mail service as well. When BSM’s mail service began almost three years ago, we envisioned about 300 guests signing up. There are now more than 1,200 Philadelphians who share our address.

The same can be said of all of the other services we offer during the four Breaking Breads we host each week.

The question we are asked repeatedly is: How do you do it? How do you serve that many guests? Our answer is the same each time: Our staff and volunteers serve our guests today the same way we did when we started offering radical hospitality in our community way back then – one meal at a time, one letter at a time, and one package at a time.

Oh, and speaking of volunteers, here is a great place to visit if you are interested in getting involved.