Loaves & Fishes and Friendship Trays Announce Merger
TWO LEADING HUNGER-FIGHTING ORGANIZATIONS JOIN FORCES TO BETTER SERVE MECKLENBURG COUNTY
Charlotte, N.C. – The boards of directors and executive leadership of Friendship Trays and Loaves & Fishes announced today that the organizations are merging to better position themselves to increase access to and distribution of healthy food and groceries for those in need in Mecklenburg County. Today’s announcement will begin a fully transparent process of joining operations to combine their boards of directors and staff, share resources and find efficiencies.
The new organization will bring together key stakeholders to find creative solutions for fighting food insecurity. Executive Directors Lucy Bush Carter (Friendship Trays) and Tina Postel (Loaves & Fishes) shared their news with donors and volunteers this morning via video message. More information about each organization is provided on their individual websites: Friendship Trays and Loaves & Fishes.
For nearly five decades, Friendship Trays and Loaves & Fishes have worked collaboratively under independent missions to provide food to those in need in Mecklenburg County. As the primary Meals on Wheels program for Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Friendship Trays delivers nutritious meals to elderly or infirm individuals who are unable to obtain or prepare their own meals. Loaves & Fishes provides a week’s worth of nutritionally balanced groceries to individuals and families experiencing a short-term crisis, utilizing a network of emergency food pantries located throughout Mecklenburg County. The new organization will create a more seamless and streamlined process of securing food and getting it to those who need it.
“I think it is difficult for someone in crisis to know exactly where to turn and what resources are available to them. Being food insecure can be a scary, shameful experience and we want to work together to improve that,” said Executive Director Tina Postel. “We believe that working together as one will improve overall access to nutritious food in a way that ensures kindness, dignity and hope are also byproducts of our services.”
Originally planned for last spring, the merger of Friendship Trays and Loaves & Fishes evolved as both organizations had to adjust outreach, operations and delivery models due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The information sharing and logistics support both teams have shared for many years became critical in 2020. Bush Carter and Postel felt even more urgency to formalize their shared vision of creating a continuum approach to the complicated challenges of hunger, which impact a growing population in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
“There is enough food in Charlotte, the country and the world for everyone,” said Executive Director Lucy Bush Carter. “Getting that food to those who need it is a matter of distribution, and Friendship Trays and Loaves & Fishes represent best practices in that area.”
The first step of this merger will be to formally unite the staff of both organizations under one roof, as safety measures allow. Postel will become the CEO of the new organization with Bush Carter serving as director emeritus through the transition. Both boards of directors will combine into one board to serve the newly formed 501(c)3. The formal organization name will be Loaves & Fishes/Friendship Trays, Inc., but may change as the mission evolves. Both organizations are financially sound with strong donor support.
Since 1976, the mission of Friendship Trays has been to deliver nutritious meals to elderly or infirm individuals in the Charlotte community who are unable to obtain or prepare their own meals. Before COVID-19, Friendship Trays cooked and couriered a meal to the doorsteps of over 700 recipients. Friendship Trays still strives to deliver human connection to those who are isolated and lonely. For more information: www.friendshiptrays.org.
Since 1975, Loaves & Fishes has provided groceries and hope to Mecklenburg Co. neighbors in need through a network of emergency food pantries feeding 1,000 individuals through one food pantry that first year. In 2020, Loaves & Fishes provided nutritious groceries to 120,200 individuals a 50% increase over 2019. Half of the recipients were children and seniors. As COVID-19 forced the closing of its 41 brick and mortar pantries, Loaves & Fishes switched to distributing groceries through mobile pantries and home deliveries. For more information: www.loavesandfishes.org.