Dear friend of Loaves and Fishes:
Once upon a time at midday on weekends, the Loaves and Fishes dining room and kitchen were filled with happy voices and mouthwatering aromas of hot food. Now with the coming of the Covid-19 pandemic, that’s all behind us. The kitchen and dining room are hushed and empty.
But hunger hasn’t gone away. I assure you that Loaves and Fishes continues in modified form to ensure that hungry people can still find something to eat with us. When Bishop Marianne Budde ordered churches in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington to close their doors on March 11, Loaves and Fishes’ leaders scrambled to figure out what to do. That first weekend we were reduced to putting out bottled water and snacks for those who came looking for a meal. But by the next weekend, the Loaves and Fishes bagged-lunch-to-go system was in place and fully operational. Sadly we had to lay off for the time being virtually all of the dozens of volunteers who faithfully gathered Saturdays, Sundays, and federal holidays to prepare, plate, and serve our meals—under agreement with church authorities and in keeping with standard health policy during the pandemic shutdown, no guests and only a handful of L&F people can be in the building at any time.
In our new system, two of our three part-time employees and two or three volunteers, all under 60 and in good health, gather each weekend to make the sandwiches—chicken salad, tuna salad, ham or cheese—and pack 250 lunch bags with a sandwich, a bag of chips, a cookie or a granola bar, and a bottle of water or soft drink. (Loaves and Fishes’ third employee, who has health problems, is on paid leave for the duration.) At mealtime L&F staffer Delawerence “Dee” Brooks spreads the lunch bags on a table outside, where guests wait in line appropriately separated. This is a grab-and-go situation, not the jolly fellowship of the former seated meals inside, but it’s a meal when otherwise there might not be one.
I am most grateful for your past support of Loaves and Fishes program. These days I can’t issue you the usual invitation to come lend a hand in preparing the meal, serving it, and meeting our guests. But I can ask you to remain a crucial part of our team by helping us meet the costs of continuing to carry out the Loaves and Fishes miracle in a time of plague.
Please give now. Your gift to Loaves and Fishes in any amount will be most welcome.
Please stay safe in these difficult days, and be assured that we remain connected even in our physical separation.
Chair, Loaves and Fishes Management Board