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Loaves to Fishes Ministry:  Donations and volunteers welcome

When hard times hit, it can be stressful not knowing where your next meal will come from.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues on, this is the reality for many individuals. This reality has led to programs like the Loaves to Fishes Ministry, who were already aiding those in need prior to the pandemic, doing all they can.
“We have grown tremendously during COVID,” said Serena Miller, director of the program. “Back in March we were feeding about 30 people and probably giving out 1-2 maybe 3 food boxes a night. By summer we were giving out 90-100 meals a night up until recently. Our normal now is about 120-150 meals. A big night would be 200 meals or more.”
The nonprofit organization gives out hot meals to anyone in need five nights a week, except for Wednesday and Sunday, from 6-7 p.m. Food boxes are also given out. Those who qualify (income/benefits) receive one food box every two weeks.
Miller explained that receiving benefits is an automatic qualifier for the food box, however the income level has expanded due to COVID-19.
“Most people in Carter County would be able to qualify,” said Miller.
Food given out comes from Second Harvest Food Bank, and food is USDA. Food that is not USDA comes from a grant that is at Second Harvest, which covers the costs. Local donations also help.
Who makes all this possible? Volunteers.
“We really run this program on about 10-12 volunteers a night,” said Miller.
Miller said that when people receive their nightly food and the food boxes, they are beyond grateful.
“Some people have never struggled like this before, and this is new to them during this time, and other people are just barely making ends meet,” she explained. “We have senior citizens who maybe have to choose between their medication and food.”
Miller describes this program as a “hands up” for people going through hard times right now.
“We won’t turn anybody away hungry at all,” she said.
Volunteers and donations are part of what makes this all possible to keep the “hand ups” coming, so there is a need for both. Miller said they are always welcoming volunteers to help make food or even help package it. Meanwhile, donations, as well as a desire to partner with local churches, is also sought.
For more information on the Loaves to Fishes Ministry, call 423-543-4901 and select the ministry extension, info is also provided on the organization’s Facebook page.
“We want people to see the love of Jesus here, that is our ultimate goal,” said Miller. “To give a total stranger your time and your effort, it takes the love of Christ. We want people to know that we want nothing in return. We just want to help our community and keep our people fed and do as much as we can during this difficult time.”