BARTLESVILLE, Okla. — A Bartlesville nonprofit is seeing an increase in the number of people it serves meals to during the coronavirus pandemic.
A line forms outside Agape Mission in Bartlesville just before 11 every morning Monday through Friday.
"If it wasn't for this place, sometimes we wouldn't be able to eat," said Melissa Richards, a Bartlesville resident.
The food kitchen is serving prepared meals to hundreds in the community, including Eric Eudy, who lost his job and his home during the pandemic.
"It's helped me, my kids, my sister, my whole family," Eudy said. "We've come here every day. And days where we didn't have nothing, this is where we ate."
Agape typically serves about 4,200 to 4,500 meals per month. Those numbers are increasing during the pandemic. In April, it served almost 6,400. In Aug. it served more than 6,200 meals.
"Anytime we have something like this in this nation or in your city, it's going to affect those that are in poverty much quicker than it affects anyone else," said Sherri Smith, executive director of Agape.
Smith said Agape's expenses rose due to the pandemic. ConocoPhillips gave them a grant to help with those extra costs. Local churches and other organizations are also helping supply them with bulk food, something they didn't typically give out before the pandemic.
"Everybody needed more of that kind of food because there was so many people not working," Smith said. "And there's still quite a few people not working."
Now that school is in session, the number of meals served is going down with about 4,700 in September. But no matter the demand, Agape will continue helping those lining up outside their doors, welcoming them with open arms.
"When you come here they don't make you feel like that you're doing something bad by being hungry," Eudy said. "They make you feel welcome. You know, like, 'Here's you some food. I understand you're going through some hard times.' And it makes you feel better."
You can find ways to donate to Agape Mission here.
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