UPDATED — It looks like the Lord’s Diner is going to have the distinction of having Wichita’s only fleet of food trucks, although for now that’s just two trucks.
“It’s been amazing,” says Lord’s Diner director Jan Haberly.
“We thought our average number would be 250, maybe 300,” she says of the people served nightly.
Instead, it’s more like 400.
In June, a second truck will debut at Friendship Park in the Hilltop neighborhood on Bluffview between Harry and Lincoln, where there’s also a community center so diners can eat inside if they like.
Dear Neighbor Ministries and StepStone, which are ministries of the Congregation of St. Joseph, requested the new truck. The convent also is in the Hilltop area, and Haberly says there’s a great need for food for the homeless and others there.
“These literally are their neighbors that they’re helping in this low-income area,” Haberly says of the nuns.
Sister Ann Catherine Burger regularly delivers food in the area. She used to do it via a golf cart, but now that she’s almost 93, she has a volunteer driver.
“She’s acquainted herself with a lot of folks in that area, so she kind of knows what their needs are,” Haberly says.
“She thought this year maybe she might like to retire at some point. And so we said, ‘OK, we can do that.’”
Pat O’Donnell, director of mission advancement for Dear Neighbor, says Burger will still continue to visit the truck.
“She considers those people her people.”
It’s not for certain yet, but Haberly thinks the truck will serve daily beginning at 4:30 p.m., which is when a nearby Head Start program lets out.
“We can get those kids a meal before they head home,” Haberly says.
The two Lord’s Diner sites and the food truck are averaging 1,000 meals a day, which is up from about 700 or 750 previously. Haberly credits food service manager David Horton for the execution of all the meals.
Haberly says she’s open to even more trucks, but she’s not sure how many the Lord’s Diner can support.
“We’re going to reach a maximum on what our kitchen can produce,” she says. “We do need more volunteers because we’re preparing more meals every day.”
There will be a food handlers permit training at the convent on May 17. Call (316) 684-5120 for details. The permit will be good for volunteers who want to serve at one of the diners or the trucks.
Haberly appears tickled that a second truck is in the works so quickly after the first.
“It’s just crazy,” she says. “The need is there, and you can’t say no. We just have to answer the call.”