The mission of the Daily Bread Soup Kitchen is to feed the hungry of our community regardless of race, religion, or ethnicity. We welcome all volunteers to this service who share an unconditional positive regard for every human being. We provide a safe, respectful, and inviting environment in an atmosphere of hope and dignity.
Daily Bread Soup Kitchen was formed in August, 2009, when St. Jude’s Catholic Worker House Steering Committee made the decision to close the soup kitchen after seventeen years of operation. Many long-time Catholic Worker House volunteers remained strongly committed to the mission of feeding the hungry of the Champaign-Urbana community and banded together to create Daily Bread.
Under the leadership of President Ellen McDowell, Daily Bread was incorporated as a 501c3 not for profit agency, a board was elected, and a fund-raising effort was undertaken. After a discouraging search for a new home , Daily Bread was delighted to be taken in by New Covenant Fellowship, 124 West White Street, just down the street from our former home.
In six short years we have gone from handing out sack lunches to 30 guests from the doorway of New Covenant to serving a nutritious hot meal to an average of almost 200 guests a day in New Covenant’s Fellowship Hall, almost triple the number of guests we were able to feed at St. Judes’. Today we serve our guests soup, salad, a hot entree, and a dessert, all prepared in a newly updated and Public Health approved kitchen. In 2014 we served a total of over 153,000 meals to our guests.
Because New Covenant facilities are not available to us on the weekend, we now staff a mobile van that serves soup, sandwiches and coffee at two different locations on the weekend. Our weekend volunteers are dedicated and can be found handing out food in the coldest weather.
Although we are very grateful to New Covenant for their generous partnership, our long term goal has always been to have our own building where we can serve our guests a nutricious hot meal seven days a week.
We are well on our way to making that dream come true. We recently purchased the old Emerald City Lounge at 118 N. 1st Street in Champaign and are currently raising funds for renovation. We hope to soon be serving soup out of our own kitchen.
In addition, although our primary mission is feeding the hungry, the guests that we serve come to us with many other needs as well. From the beginning we decided to create an Assistance Committee to provide what help we can. Most of our efforts involve helping guests get state IDs and birth certificates, necessary paperwork that allows them to qualify for jobs, disability, public aid. In addition we buy yearly bus passes for guests who can demonstrate a need. In addition our RAP Office (Referal and Assistance Program) is used by outside agencies who provide assistance to our guests.
Daily Bread is a unique entity in many ways. First and foremost, it is entirely volunteer run. We have NO paid staff or administrative overhead. All donations go directly to client services. Secondly, we have a very eclectic and diverse group of volunteers--men, women, Catholics, Protestants, Hindu, Jews, other, none of the above, Democrats, Republicans, etc, etc. Our volunteers span a wide range of ages, although we tend to be either over 60 or under 25 (Middle agers are always welcome!!) Thirdly, we are entirely funded by local donations and a few small local grants. We have no federal or state funding. And lastly, we have no requirements or preconditions for who we feed. Anyone who walks in the door is given a plate, no questions asked. And we never turn anyone away, even if they arrive late because, as Ellen McDowell reminds us, “the last person in line could be Jesus.”