Please enable JavaScript to properly view our site.

Homeless 6.jpg

People line up outside First United Methodist Church for a free grab-and-go breakfast on Thursday, March 26, 2020.

What’s for breakfast?

It was a baked casserole with pineapple served Tuesday to more than 100 needy people in downtown Lancaster.

The line at First United Methodist Church started forming before 8:30 a.m., just as it has every weekday since August 2016.

It can be the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving or Christmas. If it’s a weekday, then a free breakfast is served at the church to anyone who shows up hungry.

But the streak of 962 consecutive weekdays and more than 40,000 meals a year could be interrupted later this year.

Anchorage, the tiny nonprofit that runs the breakfast program at the church, is scrambling to adjust after three fundraisers were canceled because of COVID-19.

Anchorage, left with a $103,000 hole in its $233,000 budget, was forced to cut hours for cleaning and security staff, Patty Eastep, the executive director, said.

Showers for the homeless on Thursdays may have to be eliminated at some point.

And the number of days breakfast is served could be reduced, although that’s not yet under consideration, said the Rev. Joe Dipaolo, an Anchorage board member and lead pastor at the church.

Homeless 4.jpg

Trina Drumm grabs coffee sweeteners at the grab-and-go breakfast line at First United Methodist Church on Thursday, March 26, 2020.

Jen Koppel, director of Lanco MyHome, the county’s homeless coalition, called the weekday breakfast program “an anchor” to Lancaster’s safety net of community meals. At present, the hungry can find a free breakfast, lunch and dinner every day of the week somewhere in the city.

During the pandemic, grab-and-go bags have replaced sit-down meals.

Besides providing something hot to eat for breakfast, the Anchorage meal includes extras such as coffee, fruit, cereal, packaged snacks, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and beverage.

The need is expected to increase.

“We have hungry neighbors even when the economy is booming,” Dipaolo said. “We’re going to see more of that with people losing work. So there’s an increasing need at the same time we’re facing increasing pressure financially.”

Want to help?

Donations are welcome at anchoragebreakfast.org.

Mail checks to Anchorage Breakfast Program, 29 E. Walnut St., Lancaster PA.