Due to a renovation project at St. Anthony, Loaves and Fishes needed a new venue for its Oakley operation. The Redman Pocahontas Hall, also in Oakley, seemed like an ideal fit, according to LFCC Operations Manager Carol Babcock.
“As the church was being renovated, we began to look for a new location, and this hall is absolutely wonderful,” Babcock said. “The members of the hall have been so gracious to invite us here to serve the hungry each week, and this facility is gorgeous. We love it here, and so do our guests.”
LFCC is run by community volunteers and donations from Safeway, Lucky, Trader Joe’s, Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, and The Cheesecake Factory. LFCC doesn’t offer scraps and stale bread. Every Monday through Friday, the program offers people warm, nutritious meals complete with fruit salad, bread, green salad, dessert and an entrée such as chicken curry, Mexican casserole or creamy pasta primavera with chicken.
“We pride ourselves in serving hot, nutritious meals five days a week,” Babcock said. “We serve everyone, but the jobless, the working poor, seniors and families with children are the ones who are really in need right now. We don’t ask for identification or proof of residence. We don’t discriminate. We welcome everyone.
“And for many of our guests, this may be the only warm meal they have all day, so guests are welcome to seconds and thirds. It’s all-you-can-eat from 11 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Guest can’t take the leftovers home, but we do offer a ‘free’ table which is stocked with breads, muffins, bagels, cookies and any other overflow from the kitchen that didn’t appear on the serving table. People are welcome to take as much as they need. We don’t limit them or judge them. We just want to keep people from going hungry.”
Oakley LFCC Manager Thurston Brice said that despite announcements of the program’s relocation, only about 40 percent of the St. Anthony regulars have followed the program to Main Street.
“We average about 30 to 40 people each day, but a lot of our regulars haven’t followed us yet,” Brice said. “It could be a transportation issue. St. Anthony’s was imbedded in the community, so a lot of people were able to walk to the church, but this new location is about two and a half miles away, so some people, especially the seniors, may not want to walk that far.”
Babcock expects more guests in the next coming weeks since school is out for summer and children who get free lunches at school will need a place to go to fill that void.
“We see a lot of children during the summer when school’s out,” Babcock said. “We see mothers bringing in their children because they have no way to provide a warm meal for their kids and they have nowhere else to go. But like I said, we don’t judge or discriminate. We just want to help.”
Added Brice, “If you’re human, we’ll feed you. Race, gender, religion … that doesn’t matter here. We just want to make sure you have at least one warm meal today.”
Redman Pocahontas Hall is located at 1403 Main St., next to Live Oak Church. The site is accessible through the Tri-Delta Transit Route 383 Oakley Loop. The kitchen is open from 11 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Monday through Friday. All meals are free.
Those interested in volunteering to help prepare meals or serve food are invited to contact Volunteer Services Manager Rodger Jensen at 925-708-4257 or visit www.loavesfishescc.org.