This story begins in the month of Ramadan, the month of fasting observed each year by Muslims, which ran last year from June 16 to July 17. Salma Jordan and some of her friends were looking for places where they could carry out their plan to perform 30 days of service as part of their observance of the holy month, during which Muslims abstain from food and drink from dusk to dawn. Someone mentioned Loaves and Fishes to her, she was in touch with Denize Stanton-Williams, the L&F program manager, and soon thereafter the group, accompanied by Esther Jordan, Salma’s mother, pitched in on the serving of a Sunday meal.
“We loved it and found a golden service opportunity for ’30 days of Service’ and for FEED (Food for Everybody Every Day),” Esther Jordan recalled. The elder Jordan is executive director of FEED, a project of the Association of Black Shia Youth of North America.
A one-time volunteer appearance swiftly turned into a continuing relationship in which another Jordan daughter, Kadijah Jordan, collects excess fresh produce from Big Valley, Mom’s, and Whole Foods markets, and once or twice a week delivers a selection to Loaves and Fishes and several other free meal and pantry programs in the Washington area. More recently, FEED has formed a relationship with the Capital Area Food Bank, opening the way to larger quantities of fresh food. “This is an amazing program,” Kadijah said of Loaves and Fishes as she was making a delivery on a recent Sunday. “And you people have been doing it for so long. We just knew from that first visit that we wanted to be part of it.”
Volunteers come to us. Most of the cooking, plating, and serving of the grand Loaves and Fishes Christmas dinner this past December was provided by members of Tifereth Israel Congregation, a synagogue on upper 16th Street in collaboration with other volunteers from the Washington, DC, Jewish Community Center. Larry Brizer of Tifereth Israel said this past Christmas was the tenth year the synagogue has sent volunteers to help with Christmas meals for the hungry around the metropolitan area. They helped at seven sites last Christmas including Loaves and Fishes, which was recommended to them by Catholic Charities, Brizer said. And with its contribution of $500, Tifereth Israel paid for most of the cost of that meal.
Loaves and Fishes is a ministry of St. Stephen and the Incarnation that offers a free hot lunch at noon every Saturday, Sunday, and federal holiday, 25,000 meals a year. Over its nearly 50 years of operation, Loaves and Fishes has grown into a program far larger than we at St. Stephen’s can handle alone. We have the continuing support of a number of churches, increasingly we have the support of people of other faiths or none, but we need your support also.
Please consider donating here, and come by any weekend to check us out, experience the program, and help serve a meal.