Questions & Answers
Questions & answers for our most common inquiries. Please contact us if your question is not addressed.
- What is Loaves & Fishes?
Loaves & Fishes is a nonprofit emergency food pantry program which provides a week's worth of nutritionally balanced groceries to individuals and families in a short-term crisis through a network of 20 pantries located throughout Mecklenburg County. In 2016 Loaves & Fishes served 67,509 people, 48% of which were children.
- What is an emergency food program?
Loaves & Fishes was created to meet emergency food needs brought about by a crisis situation. Loaves & Fishes sees its mission as providing a hand up in a crisis, not a hand out. Clients are screened to determine need and may visit a pantry up to eight times in a 365 day period.
- Who are Loaves & Fishes’ clients?
Loaves & Fishes serves the general population in the Charlotte area -- including the working poor, disabled, those on fixed incomes, and people who have been laid off or had their work hours reduced. Many of our clients live on very limited incomes and lack the resources to feed their families when unexpected expenses arise or income is lowered. For some their income is so low that it is difficult to make it through a month even when there is no emergency. There is no discrimination between gender, race, religion or age. The average monthly household income of our clients in 2015 was $1,054.
- How did Loaves & Fishes begin?
Loaves & Fishes began in 1975 when a handful of people in our community recognized the growing hunger needs in our area and opened a single food pantry to address those needs. That first year, Loaves & Fishes fed approximately 1,000 people. Since 1975, Loaves & Fishes has grown to a network of 20 food pantries located throughout Mecklenburg County.
- How can an individual or family receive services?
Clients must have a referral to receive services from Loaves & Fishes to assure that those truly in need are served. Charlotte Mecklenburg Human Service Agencies, qualified ministries, local clergy, school counselors, and medical providers screen and evaluate cases. After screening, clients are sent to one of Loaves & Fishes' pantries to receive a week's worth of groceries for themselves and their family members.
- After receiving a referral to Loaves & Fishes, how do clients receive groceries and what type of food is provided?
Loaves & Fishes provides Client Choice shopping which enables our clients to choose items their families like while providing a grocery store experience. Clients choose a specified number of items from each food category based on family size (proteins, grains, vegetables, fruits, etc…) enough groceries to prepare a week’s worth of meals. Client Choice gives clients control over the foods they choose rather than receiving prebagged groceries. Choosing what they know their families will eat cuts down on waste and provides dignity to the client. The food categories and quantities were determined by a Registered Dietitian.
Groceries include nonperishable food such as cereal, canned vegetables and fruit, pastas and 100% juice; perishable items such as fresh meat, eggs, cheese, and yogurt; and personal care items including toothbrushes, soap, and toilet paper.
- How often can someone visit Loaves & Fishes?
Clients may visit a Loaves & Fishes' pantry up to eight times in a rolling 365 day period. Clients are encouraged to use Loaves & Fishes as an emergency food service, not as a regular food source. During 2015, 38% of clients visited a pantry only once, 21% twice, and 15% three times.
- What does Loaves & Fishes need?
Nonperishable foods (click here for priority needs list), volunteers, upright frost free freezers and refrigerators in good working condition, and funds to purchase food for clients and to subsidize warehouse and food delivery costs.
Please note that we cannot accept donations of home prepared food, refrigerators & freezers not in good working order, chest freezers, clothing or furniture.
- How do I conduct a food drive?
Loaves & Fishes is in need of food throughout the year. Click here for information on how to conduct a food drive.
- Who works for Loaves & Fishes?
The vast majority of Loaves & Fishes' work is done by nearly 4,000 volunteers, both groups and individuals, that are actively involved in our program. In the pantries, volunteers help our clients choose their groceries and stock pantry shelves. In our phone center, volunteers take referrals for clients needing food assistance. In our warehouse, individual volunteers assist with pantry deliveries, the picking up of food donations, pulling grocery orders for distribution and a host of other tasks as they arise. Volunteer groups are essential to help in the warehouse to sort and pack food donations for distribution to our pantries. To become a volunteer, please fill out our volunteer form here.
- What is the difference between Loaves & Fishes and a food bank?
Loaves & Fishes and Second Harvest Food Bank are partners, working together to fight hunger in our community. Loaves & Fishes provides a week’s worth of groceries through a network of food pantries in Mecklenburg County. Second Harvest serves as a supplier for agencies, warehousing surplus food that they distribute to agencies such as Loaves & Fishes, local shelters and soup kitchens in a 19 county region in North and South Carolina.
- What are the sources of Loaves & Fishes food and funding?
Individual Donations, Corporations, Foundations, Congregations, Scouting for Food (annual food drive conducted by Mecklenburg Co. Council of Boy Scouts held the first Saturday in February), National Association of Letter Carrier’s Food Drive (annual food drive in May, co-sponsored by US Postal Service), Charlotte CROP Hunger Walk (citywide fundraising walk in October), Thanksgiving Food Drives (area school food drives), Emergency Food and Shelter Program (total amount of fund is allocated to direct food purchases).
- Is Loaves & Fishes a United Way Agency?
No. Because Loaves & Fishes fills such a basic need in our community providing emergency food - we have been fortunate to receive sufficient support from individuals, corporations and congregations concerned about local hunger issues, without becoming affiliated with any large regional or national organization.
- Does Loaves & Fishes have an annual audit?
Yes. The accounting firm of GreerWalker conducts our annual professional audit. Copies of the audit can be found in the About Us Page under Marketing and Administrative Documents or at the Loaves & Fishes’ Administrative Offices.
- How do I get more information about Loaves & Fishes?
For more information about Loaves & Fishes, and how you, your business or organization can help with food contributions, tax-deductible donations, in-kind donations, and volunteer opportunities, please contact us:
Loaves & Fishes
648B Griffith Road
Charlotte, NC 28217