Daily Bread receives $15,000, needs $97,000


Rarden is one of the small villages making up Scioto County. In fact, its last reported population was 146 and 566 for the township, in the last election, only around 225 voters were active. Outside of the Rarden Whitetail Deer Festival, the area stays pretty quiet in its beautiful corner of the County. That’s why it is shocking that over 125 individuals in that area visit the Rarden Daily Bread, daily, to commune with community and enjoy a free meal.

The Rarden Daily Bread is a soup kitchen founded and organized by Rarden Mayor Ron Syroney’s wife, Pam. The group began two weeks before closures resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 after Syroney said she felt a call to action.

“This began, because I started having these dreams about children going hungry and I felt God was leading me in this direction. I told him to find someone else. However, one day, on my way to church, after not being able to sleep and rest, it came to me that there are a lot of little children who cry before they go to sleep, because they’re hungry. In one dream I kept having, parents were telling their children, ‘I’m sorry, but go to sleep and maybe we can find food tomorrow.’”

Syroney said the average number of participants at first was 25 and it was a rocky go.

“I didn’t know anything about starting a soup kitchen,” Syroney said. “When I started talking to people, they told me to run the kitchen only one or two days. I couldn’t do that. What about the other days? Do we send the kids to bed hungry?”

Syroney began sending out letters and talking to churches, building connections to get the kitchen launched.

“We talked for months, but I finally said let’s pick a date and let’s start,” Syroney said. “We started cooking out of our own kitchens, buying food ourselves, and learning how to make it happen.”

Two weeks after starting, the pandemic shut everything down, but the Rarden Daily Bread did not. They masked up and handed out food at the door for people to take home with them. Since then, they’ve not missed a day.

The Daily Bread feeds a meal seven days a week, even on holidays, weekends, and during inclement weather at the Anna Jean Gardner Senior Community Center, 1693 Main Street, between 4 and 5:30 p.m.

Syroney said she never knows what to expect with attendance, but they’re always prepared to feed the hungry.

“Today, we served 103, but, yesterday, we served 138,” Syroney said. “We never know how many we are going to get, but the average is 125.”

The group also sends meals to homebound individuals.

“Some people, on their way home from work or to church, will stop by and take meals to neighbors and the elderly,” Syroney said. “It takes a lot of volunteers to make this all happen, and I honestly can’t even tell you how many we have, because we do have people who will shuttle meals and I consider them a volunteer, too. They’re taking their own time and using their own gas to feed people. We have floater volunteers, four different shifts, and drivers; I always tell people that it takes a community.”

Recently, the Scioto Foundation awarded $15,000 to the Rarden Daily Bread for their renovation of a commercial kitchen and feeding space with a drive through window. The money is earmarked for a new ceiling in the space. Once completed, the group will begin running plumbing for gas lines, electric, installing the hood and appliances, and more.

Syroney says that estimates put the remaining balance at $97,000 to gain occupancy.

“I feel good about that, because it was once $350,000,” Syroney claimed.

The group gets a lot of food from Freestore Foodbank, volunteers often pull spices and butter and other necessities from their own kitchens, and they are better about bulk purchasing and discounts now. However, the serving trays alone cost the organization $17 plus a day, so expenses add up quickly.

Syroney isn’t daunted by the remaining balance of the kitchen, however, because she believes it will happen. For those wishing to get them closer may donate to them at P.O. Box 3 in Rarden Ohio. She is also looking for someone to assist her with a new website so that she may accept online donations.

One community leader firmly behind the volunteers is Scioto County Economic Development Assistant Director Marcie Barlow.

“The Daily Bread provides a much needed service for the residents of the northwestern corner of Scioto County,” Barlow said. “In addition, they also provide meals to those in need in the neighboring portions of Pike and Adams counties. Their generosity ensures that each individual receives a hot meal once a day with no question asked.”

Barlow is impressed with the volunteers and says that those involved have massive heart for their fellow man.

“I think it’s amazing,” Barlow continued. “They give so much of their time to do the cooking, serving and cleanup. And it doesn’t end there, as they pickup food donations and also meet with potential grant funders and business owners for monetary assistance.”

The volunteers now have years under their belts, partial funding for the kitchen, connections with organizations like Freestore Foodbank, and Syroney says she isn’t slowing down.

“I feel like it is needed now more than when it was revealed to me,” Syroney explained. “We’ve not closed our doors not even one day. Not with holidays or weather—even if the electric is out, we find a way to get the meals hot and served.”

The founder says the feeling of service is great and it has had a massive impact on her.

“I probably feel better serving than they feel receiving the meal,” Syroney said. “I feel the people in that kitchen, doing the mission that we are doing, are greater blessed than those we serve.”

Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2023 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.

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