By Nicole Wiseman and Kyle Dierking, NewsOn6.com
TULSA, OK -- Tough economic times have had an effect on everyone and for some a warm meal is hard to come by.
Iron Gate, a nonprofit organization, works everyday to change that by feeding the hungry and homeless of Tulsa.
Hundreds of people start their day with a trip to Iron Gate. For them it's a welcoming place where they can eat, until they're no longer hungry.
"Gotta feed the homeless, you gotta look out for the homeless. They got to eat. They have a right to pertain to a place and get something good to eat," said Steven.
Steven is homeless and has been for years. Iron Gate is his escape from life on the street.
"Poor, starving, without, doing without, hurting; depending on what's going on in your world, sometimes you don't know," said Steven.
Connie Cronley, Executive Director of Iron Gate, has met a lot of people like Steven, but she says with the state of the economy, those who are homeless aren't the only ones who depend on the meals.
"The difference we're seeing in this economy is more elderly on a fixed income, more women, more children, more working poor, people who have been evicted who have lost their jobs, who have never sought food help before. The numbers are alarming," said Cronley.
At this time last year, Iron Gate volunteers were serving 275 people a day. Now that number has grown to more than 400. On Fridays, Iron Gate gives away bags of groceries. A year ago they gave away 65-70 bags of groceries every week. Now they give away 100-125 bags.
Iron Gate opened in 1984 and despite the rising cost of food, no one has ever been turned away. Cronley says that's thanks to donations from local groups and businesses.
"We are very lucky to be in Tulsa, in this area where people care about our community and everybody is pitching in," said Cronley.
They're pitching in for people like Kathleen who recently became homeless.
"My fiancé was a plumber, but the construction has really hit bottom. The economy is really bad and places like this help people that are in this situation," said Kathleen.
The aid goes beyond food, to even helping put things in focus.
"We do food, but we have a couple of people who need reading glasses or hygiene kits. Today somebody asked us (for one). He's trying to get a job and needs a razor and toothbrush and a washcloth," said Cronley.
Fighting hunger is Iron Gate's hope, but gathering with others and having a heartfelt laugh helps too.
"There's a lot Iron Gate has done for me to explain," said Steven.
"It has helped me and I'm sure it has helped other people," said Kathleen.
Location: south side of Trinity Episcopal Church at 501 South Cincinnati in downtown Tulsa
Get updates to Nicole's latest stories through Twitter. Click here to follow her.