Our Daily Bread Program attendees and volunteers pause for a group prayer before they eat lunch.
Our Daily Bread Program attendees and volunteers pause for a group prayer before they eat lunch. (Julianne Murrah)
Last week, as several volunteers rushed around to get ready for lunch in the kitchen of McCree Hall at First United Methodist Church, chicken tenders, tater tots, gravy, green beans and bread, along with fresh fruit donated by Chicken Express owner Terry Bishop, were laid out along a long counter top, ready for the long line of hungry visitors that have frequented McCree Hall for more than a month.

It was the final day of this year’s seasonal Our Daily Bread operation, one of the vastly important safety nets for the hungry people of Graham. 

Outside of the kitchen, hundreds held hands and bowed their heads as one of the volunteers gave thanks for the free food and fellowship provided through Our Daily Bread. After a prayer and an “amen,” the crowd formed a long line, and volunteers served each individual their meal. Even more volunteers carried trays of food for the elderly, poured drinks and prepared take-home sandwiches.

Bronwen Choate, program director and creator, said that on average the program feeds more than 100 people a day — for free. Food is donated through churches and local businesses and organizations, and fresh vegetables are provided through FUMC’s community garden just outside of the church. Choate said the program’s purpose is to feed hungry families and individuals — regardless of whether they can afford it. She also said the program could not be made possible without the help of volunteers.

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Mary Braddock has volunteered for the program since it began four years ago.

“It’s a worthwhile program,” she said. “I do everything I can for children and families. It’s great to actually see the community give. It’s a rewarding thing that makes you proud of your community.”
This summer was the first time Sharon Stewart volunteered for the program.

“I was in bed as an invalid for four years, and I finally got out of bed, and this has been my ministry,” she said. “It gives more to me than I give to the program. I’m so blessed to be able to do this. We have become a family.”

A young Lawson Wenninger excitedly expressed how much he enjoys helping others.

“I have only been here one year, and now I’m a pro,” he said with a smile. “It’s really fun, and feels good to help others who don’t have enough money to go out and get their own food.”

His friend, Tucker May, age 12, helped carry trays and make treats and sandwiches.

“It feels good knowing you’re helping someone else who necessarily wouldn’t go out and have fresh fruit,” he said.

The Desk and Derrick Club of Graham volunteered for an entire week in the kitchen, and Anne Marie Bradshaw and her family, who originally attended the program to eat, have volunteered at Our Daily Bread for the last three years.

“I started cleaning tables,” Bradshaw said. “Miss Bronwen started the program and is a very sweet lady and is helping the community, so I pitched in to help with her. It’s good food every time, and it’s been a really good program.

Other volunteers include Debbie Lutterbach, Tamara Wages, Claire and Aidan Adams and many, many more.

Choate said the number of program participants has increased over four years, and the program resumes again in the summer of 2015.

“The people here are extremely nice,” said Ozell Devenport, program attendee. “The food is the best in town, and beats the restaurants anywhere — it’s fantastic.”