The story of Our Daily Bread (ODB) began in the 1970s in the kitchen of the rectory of the National Shrine of the Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Cathedral Street. Homeless people would come to the kitchen door of the rectory for food and the pastor and sisters generously provided what they could.
Over time, however, the need became too great. At the initiative of Catholic Charities, the Basilica parish and Monsignor Love supported the creation of Our Daily Bread to offer nutritious meals seven days a week for Baltimore’s hungry. It was located at the corner Park Ave. and Franklin St. and opened on June 1, 1981. Founding Director Joann “Sister Josanna” Abromaitis said it best: “People simply will be fed.” And hundreds of thousands have.
The main part of the mid-day meal would be casseroles prepared by churches and the rest of the meal would be donated where possible and served by volunteers. Although it has often been called a “soup kitchen,” Our Daily Bread serves a complete meal including dessert, not soup, and the guests are individually served in a restaurant setting, not in a cafeteria line. ODB answered the call to serve all, including the most vulnerable of our society, with dignity, respect, and love; welcoming all who come for good food and respite from the streets.
As the number of diners increased, an expanded location became necessary and a new Our Daily Bread building opened on the corner of Franklin and Cathedral Streets in 1991. Over the years, a breakfast program was added on weekdays and groceries have been distributed monthly to seniors living in the local zip code. Programs like Christopher Place Employment Academy and My Sister’s Place were also developed by Catholic Charities to offer guests services beyond a mid-day meal.
The legacy continued in 2007 when Catholic Charities establish the Our Daily Bread Employment Center at 725 Fallsway. This new, comprehensive resource center would feed guests as well as help them gain self-sufficiency through employment and housing services. In late 2008, My Sister’s Place Woman’s Center opened at Franklin and Cathedral Streets to focus on providing meals and services to women and their families.
For thirty-five years, Our Daily Bread has exemplified compassion and service to men, women, and children who literally hunger for more and our story will continue as long as there is a need.