Loaves and Fishes is a nonprofit, volunteer driven agency that runs and operates three programs. These programs further our mission and are guided by our vision that all people, regardless of socio-economic, cultural, or ethnic background deserve to meet their basic needs for food, dignity and respect. We serve guests from a variety of backgrounds. Some are adults come alone or with a spouse or friend. Some are mothers and fathers who come with their children. Some are children who, for numerous reasons, have no adult accompanying them. Some of our guests sleep outside, under a bridge, or in a dumpster. Some sleep in shelters. Others sleep in a car or on a relative's couch. Our guests range in age from a few days old to ninety plus.
I. Meal Program
Loaves and Fishes serves a basic need by providing free, nutritious meals to anyone in need. Our no-questions-asked approach helps provide a welcoming, hospitable environment that protects the dignity of our guests. There are 20 different dining sites located throughout Minnesota including Bloomington, Brooklyn Center, Coon Rapids, Crystal, Eagan, Hopkins, Inver Grove Heights, Marshall, Minneapolis, Richfield, Shakopee, and St. Paul.
Providing well-balanced, nutritious meals is an important part of the Meal Program. Eating healthy meals is a preventative measure that can maintain long-term health and improve existing health conditions. By serving nutritious meals at our dining sites, Loaves and Fishes helps support the overall health of our guests.
Over 4,000 volunteers plan, prepare, and serve over 1,900 meals each night. There are three volunteer models to engage a variety of volunteers. Our traditional model consists of 12 to 15 members who choose a date at one of our dining sites and volunteer on that date consistently, i.e. 1st Thursday of the month. We also offer a Team model, that allows memebers to make commitments when their schedule permits on a more sporadic basis. Individuals are also welcome! These volunteers browse and sign up for opportunities at their convenience. Volunteers come from local businesses, corporations, community groups, schools, families, and faith-based organizations. The volunteers are an integral part of our program, and the service and hospitality they provide is unparalleled.
II. Summer Food Service Program
This program operates is part of a federal food program that provides meals to children that qualify for free or reduced lunch at school, and ensures they receive a healthy meal during the summer, when school is out. There are currently nine dinner sites as well as three lunch sites located throughout the Twin Cities metro. The purpose of the program is to provide nutritious, well-balanced lunches, dinners, and snacks to children ages 18 and under. All meals follow USDA guidelines. A nutritious diet is critical for healthy child development. A hungry child may have trouble concentrating in school and may have behavior problems. A child with a diet high in fat and sugar is in danger of developing childhood obesity as well as behavior problems. Providing nutritious, well-balanced meals is a critical building block for helping vulnerable children succeed.
III. Advocacy and Referral Services Program
Site Coordinators at each site provide advocacy and referral services to guests. This is done by conducting one-on-one interviews guests requesting assistance and ensures that all needs are addressed and responded to appropriately. Loaves and Fishes has developed formal and informal partnerships with other social service agencies in the local communities near each dining site in order to provide our guests with the information and resources that will assist them in meeting their housing, health care, employment, transportation, and emergency service needs.