Loaves & Fishes Minnesota is on pace to serve four million meals in 2020. That number is hard to believe and one we never saw coming.

Projections are hard.

At the beginning of 2020, Loaves & Fishes aimed to serve 1.5 Million meals. That was already an ambitious goal after serving 1,360,720 meals, a record for the nonprofit, in 2019. In March, the largest free meal service in Minnesota quickly transitioned to a to-go model and drastically increased work at community meal sites, with nonprofit HUB partners and in street outreach programming.

After a record-breaking month in July, Loaves & Fishes set new projections aimed at serving 3.5 Million meals. Like we said, projections are hard.

“I have been telling our staff and volunteers – we are not on a plateau, we are at the base of a mountain,” Executive Director Cathy Maes said. “The climb to meet the needs is before us.”

How did we get here?

A partnership with Second Harvest Heartland and ChowGirls Killer Catering allowed us to create the Minnesota Central Kitchen, a way to feed those in need at a higher rate. We also partnered with the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities thanks to an extended commitment from UnitedHealth Group throughout the summer and into September. During the summer Loaves & Fishes had 64 community meal sites throughout Minnesota.

Our award-winning, rapidly-growing HUB program enables partnering nonprofits and community meal groups to source food affordably by leveraging our infrastructure and food inventory. Our 62 partners select just the right amount of healthy food needed from an easily accessible online inventory system, collect that food from our convenient warehouse location, and then prepare and serve their own nutritious meals. Some meals are served to the public while others are served as part of a closed in-house meal service. All HUB partners enjoy significant (50-80%) cost savings in their food budget, convenience of food pick-up and enhanced selection of fresh produce that includes farm-to-table ingredients.

Street Outreach brings healthy, mobile meals to urban locations and serves people who are unsheltered and homeless, in transitional housing, or struggle with reliable transportation.

What’s next?

Loaves & Fishes will continue to meet the need. One exciting new way we will do this is through our brand-new commissary kitchen in collaboration with Urban Ventures. The full commercial kitchen will be used by Loaves & Fishes staff to cook large quantities of rescued food. Those entrees will be reheated and distributed at community dining sites. Prepared food will also be used for Urban Ventures’ needs and programming.

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