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Harrisburg Church Celebrates 30 Years of Feeding the Hungry - abc27 WHTM

Harrisburg Church Celebrates 30 Years of Feeding the Hungry

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Just outside Pine Street Presbyterian Church in Harrisburg, they gather every day. The hungry, waiting for a badly needed meal from Downtown Daily Bread, the church's long-time social outreach program.

Across the street, in the basement of the church's Boyd building, kitchen manager Brenda Ervin has been busy all morning preparing the meals.

"We can feed 150 people. Here we go," said Ervin as she lifted one of several pans of soup from the oven.

It's a routine she has perfected after doing so almost since the soup kitchen began 30 years ago.

An hour before the 12:30 feeding, volunteers arrive to set the tables, serve the food and clean up afterward. And it's all done with compassion and respect for those they are helping.

Downtown Daily Bread's Executive Director, Elaine Strokoff, says no one ever asks why someone is there for a meal. "Anyone who is hungry is welcome to come and eat at Downtown Daily Bread," said Strokoff. " We don't ask any questions."

For many of these mid-day diners, the free meals are a lifeline during rough times.

Steven Muro is among the grateful. "Oh, I'm very thankful. Very thankful," said Muro. "Without this meal, I wouldn't have anything."

"I think we give them hope," added Strokoff. " And, I think at the core of making a person feel good, and feel better about themselves, is to feed them."

Since Downtown Daily Bread first opened its doors, volunteers from area churches and synagogues have served more than one million meals to Harrisburg's hungry. And the demand continues to grow.

Ervin, who cooks for the needy every day, sees the increase first hand. "It's gotten bigger and bigger every year. But, there is more of a need right now."

Although feeding the hungry remains its core mission, DDB has expanded services to include showers, haircuts, clothing and help with housing and employment. The non-profit operation is funded through donations of food, money and labor from individuals, charities, churches, synagogues and corporations.

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