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“I literally cried after opening all the food” Week 14 Update from Executive Director Tina Postel

Hello Friends,

I hope your summer is off to a safe and happy start.  I kindly ask each of you to stay safe and vigilant.  As many of us grow weary of the isolation this pandemic brings it is easy to get lax in our safety precautions that include handwashing, social distancing and mask wearing.  Do your best to continue to keep yourself and others safe until the threat of this virus is behind us.  Loaves & Fishes needs you safe and healthy!

Collaboration:  Early on when this crisis began, I was invited to attend weekly meetings with Second Harvest Food Bank and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Child Nutrition Services.  Each week we discuss numbers, programs and food inventory to ensure we are covering our community’s food insecurity needs without duplication.  To coincide with the end of the school year, CMS Child Nutrition Services closed their special COVID breakfast and lunch distribution sites on June 5th.    Their new Summer Feeding program began Monday, June 15th (click here for the schedule).  They will continue to provide FREE drive-through meal pick ups at numerous sites throughout the county.  Please help spread the word about this great service (click here for flyer).  To help cover the gap last week, Second Harvest doubled their mobile school pantry sites and Loaves & Fishes worked with several nutrition staff and volunteers, school teachers and case workers to make referrals for families needing a week’s worth of groceries.  This past week we saw a large surge in referrals from many of our CMS partners.  We were happy to provide these school children and their families with a week’s worth of groceries.

Weekly numbers: Our numbers saw an increase this week due to the number of school referrals mentioned above.  We provided a week’s worth of groceries to 2,918 individuals (1,180 children and 182 seniors).  

Food Shares: Due to the availability of fresh produce and dairy boxes from Second Harvest as part of the “Farm to Family” food box program we have restarted our mobile Pop-up Food Share program this summer.  These Pop-up Food Shares are similar to our mobile pantries but clients are able to self register online.   We have served nearly 100 households at three different locations so far and are adding new locations each week.  Check out our website for upcoming Food Share dates and locations: https://loavesandfishes.org/food-share/.

Mecklenburg Ministries:  In addition to our collaboration with Second Harvest and CMS Child Nutrition Services, I also have been invited to attend weekly Zoom calls with Mecklenburg Ministries.  This Mecklenburg Interfaith Network of nearly 100 member congregations representing more than a dozen faith traditions promotes interfaith collaboration to foster understanding, compassion and justice.  Several local nonprofits have been invited to attend their weekly calls and provide updates about programs, community needs as well as organization wish list items.  While Loaves & Fishes has always been connected to this wonderful collaborative, the love and support has never felt stronger than it does now during this time of crisis.  Each week various faith leaders tune in and roll up the collective sleeves of their congregations to help wherever the help is needed.

The challenges that COVID 19 presents are far too great for any one nonprofit, church or organization to solve alone.   I’m so very grateful for the connections and support this network has provided to Loaves & Fishes and our neighbors in need during this critical time.

Mission Moment: As we close out week 14 of this COVID 19 crisis, sometimes we need a good reminder of why we do this.  The hot days and long hours battling food insecurity can seem daunting but then an email hits your inbox that reminds us how essential our work is.  This is a heartwarming note we received from a woman named Katie this week:

 “I just wanted to reach out and thank you. My family of 4 got food from you yesterday for the first time as CMS was closed. I literally cried after opening all the food. My daughter said her heart was filled with so much joy. Thank you all so much for helping our family during this hard time.  We appreciate all you do and I look forward to giving back one day.”

Friends….as this email hits your inbox, I hope it serves as a valuable reminder of how much your support means to me and to moms like Katie.  Thank you for being a part of our mission at Loaves & Fishes.  We couldn’t do this work without you!

From one hunger fighter to another,

Tina Postel

Executive Director

Loaves & Fishes