They call her ‘Cornbread’: RIFA volunteer serves city for decades


JACKSON, Tenn. — Each week in February in honor of Black History Month, WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News will recognize an African American making an impact in our community.

Step inside the soup kitchen at the Regional Inter-Faith Association and you will find volunteer Ogreter Wells. “I come here and I feel like I’m giving back what God done blessed me with,” she said.

Wells started volunteering at RIFA 22 years ago after moving to Jackson from Michigan. Wells said she tries to come at least twice a week, but sometimes it is more. “I hope they get a good meal, and I hope that what they see here, that they have a friend,” she said.

Wells prepares everything from greens to meatloaf, but she is famous for the cornbread. “When they eat the cornbread, everybody says it is so good,” Jean Murphy, a fellow volunteer, said.

In fact, RIFA staff started calling her “Cornbread.” The nickname stuck. “Every time he sees me, I’m Cornbread,” Wells said.

She decided to let us in on some of the recipe. “Two 10-pounds of meal and five pounds of flour,” Wells said.

The recipe also calls for eggs, sugar, oil and a lot of love.

Friends and fellow volunteers call Cornbread an inspiration. “She just has so much love for everybody, and I’m just so glad I have her in my life,” Lisa Hudson, a fellow volunteer, said.

RIFA does not charge for meals at the soup kitchen. No one gets turned away. For some, this could be their only hot meal that day. “This might be the only smile that they get,” Wells said.

Wells said she likes seeing people enjoy what they receive but also use it to try and make themselves better. “We don’t look down on anybody because we could be there,” she said.

Cornbread does not consider this work. In fact, she calls it healing.

The RIFA Soup Kitchen serves lunch seven days a week and dinner on Tuesdays and Thursdays. They rely on volunteers and donations.