All welcome for dinner at Break Bread

Free event celebrates second anniversary serving meals and friendship

Posted 11/11/19

Every Saturday, Marie Matlock and her friends get together for dinner. On Nov. 2, waiters brought out a three-course meal, with steak fajitas as the entrée. At the end of the meal, there was no …

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All welcome for dinner at Break Bread

Free event celebrates second anniversary serving meals and friendship

Posted

Every Saturday, Marie Matlock and her friends get together for dinner. On Nov. 2, waiters brought out a three-course meal, with steak fajitas as the entrée.

At the end of the meal, there was no check to split — dinner was on the house, as it is every week at Break Bread, a free community meal program held on Saturdays at Littleton United Methodist Church.

Break Bread means a lot more than a meal to its regulars.

“When you live alone, you might go all week without talking to someone,” said Matlock, 89, who never remarried after her husband was killed in a car crash in 1979. “Here, I know I'll have people to spend time with. I just feel better mentally when I leave.”

That's exactly the point, said Jen Engquist, Break Bread's executive director.

“People are hungry for community,” Engquist said. “We knew there are high levels of food insecurity even here in Littleton. We can alleviate that, but we can also combat isolation.”

Two years after the first meals were served, Break Bread hosts upward of 100 people every Saturday from 4 to 6 p.m., Engquist said. Guests are a “cross-section of Littleton,” she said, from seniors living alone to people experiencing homelessness, to neighbors just eager to get out of the house for an evening.

April Rodriguez falls into the last category. Rodriguez, who home schools her five children, said Saturday is “the one night I don't have to cook or do the dishes.” It also gives her a chance to have grown-up conversations, while her younger kids scamper in Break Bread's play area.

“It's also been a great way to get to know my neighbors,” Rodriguez said. “Other than something like this, it's hard — you nod when you see someone at the store, but how much do you talk?”

Break Bread puts people from all walks of life on equal footing, Engquist said.

“You might have people with drug and alcohol problems, people going through terrible issues, and here they can be at their best,” Engquist said.

Break Bread has been a stabilizing and dignifying force, said Joya Wonderlight, who just landed an apartment after six months living in her car.

“It's a chance to have someone hear me, and for me to hear others,” said Wonderlight, 67, a former teacher. “Poverty looks a lot of different ways. Many more people than you might think are just one disease or one hospital visit away from homelessness.”

There's more hardship in Littleton than meets the eye, said Kevin Kinaschuck, the owner of McKinners Pizza Bar on Main Street, and one of Break Bread's board members.

“There's a problem in our neighborhood, and it's not going away,” Kinaschuk said. “This is the start of how we address it. Poverty isn't an issue for someone else to fix. We can all take part.”

Break Bread is always looking for donations and grants, Kinaschuk said, as well as volunteers to help serve meals or to serve as table hosts to make sure nobody eats alone.

As the even wound down and waiters whisked away dirty dishes, Marie Matlock laughed with her neighbors, lingering over a final slice of cake.

Asked how she felt, Matlock looked around the table, and said, "full.”

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