ARMA — On Tuesday, The Lord’s Diner in Pittsburg has expanded its outreach to Arma.
The Lord’s Diner is a ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Wichita which provides a meal seven days a week, 365 days a year.

The ministry expanded its outreach to Arma. The diner’s volunteers made the dinner and brought it to Arma City Park. Volunteers also drove several meals to Franklin, Arcadia and Mulberry for people in living facilities.

According to The Lord’s Diner Site Director Laura Ramsey, the diner’s mission is to feed the hungry and that’s what they were there to do.
“We felt like we were ready to reach out to other communities,” Ramsey said.

On Tuesday evening over 200 area residents’ bellies were filled with homemade turkey noodle soup, mashed potatoes, green beans and fruit.

The first outreach for the Lord’s Diner in Pittsburg was in Frontenac at Sacred Heart Church, where the ministry now provides food once a week for Frontenac residents.

Arma residents created the Feed Arma Nutrition Council last fall with the help of Matt O’Malley, a community liaison from Live Well Crawford County. Live Well Crawford County is a non-profit organization that promotes healthy lifestyle choices through education, motivation, and support for all generations. It includes five task forces: Live Active, Eat Well, Breathe Well, Work Well and Age Well.

The council meets at 7 p.m. the first Tuesday of each month at the Golden Era to brainstorm ways to bring nutritious food to the tables of Arma residents.
“We are working with this council to increase healthy food access,” O’Malley said. “We have made this big list of different ways to do that and one of them was to figure out how to get The Lord’s Diner into Arma.”

O’Malley provided economic data — poverty rates, income levels and distance to grocery stores — to the Lord’s Diner and it was decided, The Lord’s Diner will now come to Arma City Park at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays to provide a free to-go meal.

According to the data O’Malley provided, Arma’s poverty rate is higher than the Crawford County rate, which is higher than the state average. Arma’s median household income level was the lowest than the Crawford County rate, which is the “worst” in Kansas, he said.
“We were able to show the Lord’s Diner that this is needed and not only is this need but there’s a group of residents that will help support this work,” O’Malley said.

Live Well also assisted Arma residents with fundraising for a community garden which is to provide fresh produce to lower income residents.

Along with the council, helping organize volunteers and coordinating is Arma City Library Director Brenda Banks.

The library is “considered the living room of the community,” Banks said. The library is used as a community center, providing more than just books, Banks said.

People come to the library if they are hungry, to look for a job, do research, look for loved ones on the internet, write obituaries and receive help with reading or understanding documents.
“I want it to be a place you can come for all your needs,” Banks said. “I think libraries are evolving and their place in the community is so much broader than they used to be in the past.”

The library is involved in the local food pantry at Northeast High School.
“I find the volunteers and the school fixes the lunch,” Banks said adding, meals are sent to Arcadia, Mulberry and the Arma City Library.

Now the library is working on a second pantry which will be located at its facility. In the fall the library will to teach education classes on budgeting and cooking healthy meals.

In the meanwhile, Banks is teaching children about “alien food” through the library’s outer space-themed reading program.
“Since we are going to have the Lord’s Diner, a garden, food pantries, lunch at the library, they are going to be given food that they maybe never had before,” she said. “The theme this year is outer space so I tied it in with ‘alien food’.”

According to Banks, she said the The Lord’s Diner free meal is “wonderful, it’s just one more thing that we can do for our community,” she said. “I’m just so pleased with the number of people who have come, and I hope they come next week and the next.”