The chicken breakfast sandwiches tasted the same and the employees acted just as politely — ending every sentence with “My pleasure” — but the basement of First United Methodist in Middletown didn’t feel or look like any Chick-fil-A restaurant.
Since the Chick-fil-A location in Washington Twp., near the Dayton Mall, is closed during remodeling, the employees there are performing community service by delivering food to the less fortunate. On Monday morning, seven employees served breakfast to about 40 Middletown residents during the church’s weekly gathering.
The church has hosted the meals for the past 25 years, and community activist Bill Fugate, who works part-time for Chick-fil-A, asked if the employees were interested in assisting in Middletown.
Church volunteers serve breakfast at 8 a.m. every Monday, said Dave Harris, a church member.
Typically, the weekly menu rotates among biscuits and gravy and eggs, tacos and eggs, pancakes and eggs and french toast and eggs, he said.
On Monday, the menu featured chicken biscuits, fresh fruit salad, bananas, mini rolls, and drinks, all compliments of Chick-fil-A, said Jaime Roth, director of catering for the restaurant.
“This is such a blessing to serve other people,” Roth said. “It’s amazing.”
Pat Ringwald, assistant to the catering director, said the employees have been performing the community service since the restaurant closed three weeks ago, and some have suggested continuing the program after the restaurant reopens on Aug. 24. They have served several agencies in the Dayton area, he said.
He was asked what he saw when he looked around the room at those in need.
“Children of God just like me and you,” he said. “I love it. This is great.”
Several of the residents said they appreciated the generosity of the restaurant owner, Marla Davis, and the dedication of her employees. For some, it may have been the only meal of the day, or at least until they received another free meal.
Robert Pieratt, 55, of Middletown, said his disability check covers his rent and utilities, and some months, there’s not enough money for food. He said he relies on social programs, like the one at First United Methodist Church.
This type of assistance, he said, helps reduce the crime rate in the city because those unemployed don’t have to steal to buy food. He’s a diabetic, so he depends on consistent, nutritional meals, he said.
He called eating Chick-fil-A “a special bonus.”
Miguel Rivera, 51, of Middletown, said he bounces from food pantry to food pantry because he’s waiting for his disability to be approved. He lives in a friend’s garage and is unemployed, he said.
“It’s nice to have a place to go to eat,” Rivera said. “This was a good breakfast.”