We went into 2021 prepared for the hunger needs in Minnesota to stay at an all-time high after serving 4.4 million meals in 2020. Our prediction was right as we went over 4 million meals again this year. This was made possible thanks to a dedicated staff and board, passionate volunteers and partnerships that continued to lift us up. Below is a small timeline look at some of our favorite stories from the year.
We are always striving to make it as easy as possible for our guests to find out where they can get a hot, free meal. We started January by adding an interactive map to our website to help with locating our community meal sites.
“When we share food, we are sharing life and love.”
We were reminded that lesson when we stopped by Farmington in January to celebrate one year of partnership.
A testimony from Lee in St. Paul about the fresh start Loaves & Fishes provided him with inspired us all. After moving from Arizona, Lee didn’t have money for food so he started going to our community meal site at St. Matthew’s Catholic Church.
He began stopping by every night of the week. Not only did he have a warm meal to count on, but he was able to get a winter coat and gloves. He said the biggest blessing was that he was even able to save enough money to buy a vehicle.
“It’s all because I’ve been eating over there every night,” said Lee. “It has helped immensely. The Loaves & Fishes volunteers are wonderful people and I know they are here for me. I don’t know what I would do without them.”
The Sellner family provided a look at a different way to give when they explained stock giving and what led them to Loaves & Fishes.
Not only did the Sellner family provide a stock donation, they also took time to volunteer in our brand new commissary kitchen on Thanksgiving morning.
“It was a great way to start a Thanksgiving weekend,” said Tim. “It was a real bonding experience to just get the kids out and have them helping others on a holiday. It was a chance to really contribute and model what we want our kids to be when they grow up: caring individuals.”
Gilbert used to frequent Loaves & Fishes as a guest. Now he’s giving his time back as a volunteer because he wants to show people the care that he felt when he was going through a tough time.
“People having societal issues and going through rock bottom give up and think people don’t care,” said Gilbert. “Places like Loaves & Fishes give people a sense of, ‘Ok, somebody cares.’”
One common theme we heard throughout the year was how the rising cost of groceries was putting a strain on our guests. One of those guests was Ted who started stopping by our community meal site at Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church this past year. He has two young daughters and his wife is unemployed. One thing he noticed right away was being able to cut down on grocery costs by not having to worry about dinner two nights a week.
We brought back our summer food program this year with eight interns that helped us in a number of areas including the commissary kitchen and a summer site at Salvation Army Central.
Partnerships with Augsburg Campus Kitchen and Antioch Community Church spotlighted the difference our HUB program is making for nonprofit partners.
Rebecca Buckman who spent time as site coordinator at Holy Rosary and works a substitute site coordinator while attending college provided a powerful reflection on the work that goes into serving our guests.
“As I see the children walk through the line, I see myself in their eyes. This gives me hope, that maybe someday they will be able to serve like I have been able to.”
Longtime board member Mike Degen provided a nice look on all the changes he has seen at Loaves & Fishes across 25 years.
“When I started we served 150,000 meals and now we are over 4 million,” said Mike. “I get a great sense of satisfaction in terms of ‘you really did something that mattered to a lot of people,’ but I’ve just been a small part of a big organization.”
The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal named Loaves & Fishes Executive Director Cathy Maes one of their 2021 Women in Business honorees.
You stepped up to help us raise $300,000 counting our match for Give to the Max Day! Your support matters. From the food being picked up in the warehouse to the last dinner dished up for the day, the impact of your generosity is felt every single day and ensures that we will be able to make 2022 just as meaningful.