With food insecurity on the rise in Dayton — including among the most vulnerable — the House of Bread will soon break ground on a new addition that will help serve the needs of children.
The community kitchen at 9 Orth Ave., which served about 130,000 meals last year, will begin construction in June of a new dining room designed specifically for families with children.
“The challenges of food insecurity in our region are frustrating and heartbreaking,” said Melodie Bennett, House of Bread’s executive director. “This expansion will ensure that people of all ages have a place where they are treated to a hot, healthy meal, and treated with respect.”
Dayton ranked second out of the 25 highest metropolitan areas on food hardship for households with children, according to the Food Research & Action Center. Almost 30 percent of households with children reported not being able to purchase food the family needed in the 12 months prior to being surveyed for the 2014-2015 study.
House of Bread’s current dining room seats 130, but about 230 people a day on average rely on the nonprofit for a nutritious lunch, served every day of the year. An average of 30 kids show up on days school is not in session, Bennett said.
The new 4,500-square-foot dining addition will seat 50 and largely be constructed in front of the current building. A public groundbreaking ceremony is planned at 2 p.m. on June 6. Completion is expected by Christmas.
Costing about $1.2 million, the project will also include two family restrooms and two private conference rooms. The $800,000 construction costs are covered by grants and gifts resulting from an 18-month capital campaign. The organization is still looking to make up the difference required to furnish the addition. Donations can be made at HouseofBread.org.
House of Bread is centered between two of Dayton’s poorer Zip codes, Bennett said. One, 45417, “is a noted food desert with very little access to fresh fruits, to fresh vegetables. There’s no grocery store.”
Single adults typically eat lunch, have coffee and may converse with others and don’t need much assistance from staff or volunteers, Bennett said.
“But families with small children need a little more time to eat. They need more space. They need easily accessible bathrooms for their little ones.” Bennett said. “We realized that our current space was really inadequate to meet the needs of families coming into us.”
The building project will also include improvements to the kitchen, food storage and sorting areas, and the entryway. Tri Tec Inc., has been selected as general contractor to build the addition designed by LWC Inc., a Dayton architectural firm.
New private meeting areas will also help House of Bread do a better job of connecting families with other community services from getting children enrolled in preschool, to finding clothing, employment and drug treatment services, Bennett said.
“It can be very simple, and it can be very complex,” she said. “Honestly, sometimes we are trying to prevent a family from ending up in a homeless situation.”