Iron Gate, an organization that serves more than 500 plates of food to hungry Tulsans every day, recently moved into its new home at 501 W. Archer St.
Founded in 1984, Iron Gate has a grocery pantry and kids’ pantry and serves a daily community meal. It outgrew its space in the basement of Trinity Episcopal Church and, for a time, fought an uphill battle to relocate; some business owners and citizens spoke out against a facility that would attract the homeless to their areas.
However, the organization happily broke ground on its new location, a $6 million project, in August 2018.
Iron Gate’s new home is 17,000 square feet — three times its former size — and includes a 2,253-square-foot patio with a fireplace, heaters, misters, benches and picnic tables. The original dining room sat 88 people, and the new dining room seats 217. Although the original gate, the organization’s namesake, remains at Trinity, the new building has a gate around the front patio with a similar design.
Executive Director Carrie Vesely Henderson says one of the most exciting things about the new building is its dedicated pantry space. The previous dining room was transformed into the pantry three times per week. "We will really be giving our guests more of a grocery store-like experience, bringing more dignity to the process," she says.
In 2018, the pantry provided groceries for more than 9,200 households, and Henderson says they will now be able to increase the pantry’s hours.
"Food is one of the top five needs when people are facing homelessness," she says, "so this new building sends a positive message that people care about them."