Loaves and Fishes Outreach Ministry provides meals to hundreds per day

Published 4:02 pm Friday, July 23, 2021

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For Carter County, the COVID-19 pandemic brought with it many struggles, whether it was in terms of schooling, work, or finances. However, there was some good to come out of the pandemic as one local church began to make it their mission to serve others and help those in need.

River’s Edge Fellowship, located at 1200 Highway 19-E in Elizabethton, became more than just a church during 2020, as the pandemic had placed a burden on so many individuals in the community. 

The church began serving hot meals to those in need, and soon after the service began, a name for the organization was brought forth — Loaves and Fishes.

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This name, referring to the feeding of 5,000 people using five loaves of bread and two fish by Jesus Christ in the Bible, became a foundation for a mission to help as many people in need as possible.

Loaves and Fishes Director Serena Miller explained the goal of the organization saying, “First and foremost, we are here to show the love of Jesus. We are here to feed the hungry, and we do that by serving hot meals as well as providing food boxes to anyone five nights a week.”

Miller states that the food ministry has really grown since the beginning saying, “On average now, we serve around 150 to 200 people per night. To do that, we need volunteers, so we have volunteers that help out from both our church as well as other area churches that support us.”

Serving the food is one thing, but receiving enough to serve that many people per night? Miller explained where the food comes from saying, “Our food is donated primarily from Second Harvest Food Bank. However, we do have a few local churches and grocery stores that donate food to help our cause.

“Our deliveries from Second Harvest come every last Wednesday of the month, and it is usually between 20,000 and 25,000 pounds of food that we unload and stock. Trustees from the local jail, as well as a couple of other groups, usually come and help with that, but we are always in need of more volunteers to help unload each month.”

Miller closed out by asking for support saying, “We are always looking for new partners to support us or volunteers to help us on a day-to-day basis. There is such a need in our community, and it seems to be growing each and every day.”

Upcoming events at River’s Edge Fellowship that will be involved with Loaves and Fishes Outreach Ministry is free COVID vaccines on July 27, as well as health testing and Narcan training that will be performed by ETSU on the July 29.

The outreach ministry is open every night except both Wednesday and Sunday nights and serves both hot meals and food boxes between 6 and 7 p.m.

For more information regarding becoming a volunteer for the ministry or any questions in general, contact Director Serena Miller at (423) 543-4196 ext. 1.