Loaves and Fishes began as an outgrowth of St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church’s practice in the mid-1960s of providing meals after Sunday services. When hungry nonchurchgoers began to appear in considerable numbers, the congregation launched a meals ministry and named the program Loaves and Fishes after the miracle described in the gospels. As Loaves and Fishes grew, other churches stepped in to help. We are now sustained by a partnership with 11 other churches, many of them in the suburbs, and diverse foundations, community groups, and individuals.
Our mission and goals are two-fold: to feed the hungry in our community and to educate volunteers and community members about hunger and homelessness. We are proud to serve a warm, healthy lunch to all who come to us without regard to their age, race, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, religious affiliation, or lack of it.
Through a partnership with Thrive DC, with which we share St. Stephen’s kitchen and dining room, a social-services worker provides outreach assistance to guests who request it two Saturdays a month, and additional assistance for guests is available from the Loaves and Fishes program manager and experienced volunteers.
The need for free meals is particularly acute on weekends when most free meal programs in Washington are closed. For the poor and the homeless, finding the next meal is a seven-day-a-week challenge. Our guest surveys last year and in previous years regularly show that most guests appreciate not only the food, which is generally rated as high quality, but also the welcoming, calm surroundings, an opportunity to be off the streets for a while and perhaps have a game of spades or checkers while waiting for the meal.